As a follow up to yesterday’s post on employer liability for employees who cause an automobile accident while using a cell phone, it is worth noting that the federal Department of Transportation just announced a prohibition of texting while driving for all interstate truck drivers, commercial bus drivers and van drivers who carry more than eight passengers. The law will be enforced with civil or criminal penalties, including fines up to $2750.
The Federal Motor Safety Administration’s research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages are distracted for 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds. So these drivers have their eyes off the road more than three-quarters of the time they are driving and texting.
The federal government has set an example for private employers not only by banning texting while driving for interstate truckers, but also for all federal employees. President Obama signed an executive order at the end of 2009 directing federal employees not to text while driving government-owned vehicles or while operating government-owned equipment. That is exactly the kind of written policy that all private employers should have.