Work-related calls may be fueling the distracted driving problem

A recent study says that many drivers text and drive so as not to miss work-related communications.

Most people know just how dangerous texting or talking on a cellphone while driving is. Distracted driving leads to hundreds of thousands of car accidents annually and their toll has helped push up the number of traffic fatalities in recent years. However, while it can be easy to put the phone on silent or to ignore an incoming call when it is from a friend, it can be a lot harder to do so when it is the boss who is calling or texting. In fact, as the Hartford Courant reports, a recent study has found that nearly half of those aged 18 to 44 engage in work-related calls, texts, or email while driving.

Younger workers at higher risk

The survey was completed by Travelers Insurance and Harris Polling and asked 1,000 American workers who regularly drive to work about their behaviors behind the wheel. The survey found that drivers were much more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors, such as emailing or texting, when it was their employer trying to communicate with them.

Young drivers were at the highest risk of succumbing to pressure to pick up the phone when their boss was trying to reach them. The survey found that close to half of those aged 18 to 44 engage in work-related communication behind the wheel and about a quarter of them said that they did so because they were afraid of upsetting their boss if they didn't. Older drivers, however, also had high rates of work-related communication behind the wheel, with about a third of respondents aged 45 to 64 admitting to having done so.

Employers should discourage distractions

As the Washington Post reports, the survey points to the responsibilities not just drivers but their employers have in reducing distracted driving accidents. In 2013, for example, a New Jersey court found that if a person texted somebody who they knew to be driving then that person could be held liable for a resulting distracted driving accident. The American Association of Justice has also warned employers that in some situations they could also be held liable for accidents for contacting employees while they are driving.

Distracted driving has become a major public safety issue in recent years and about 10 percent of traffic fatalities are tied to distracted driving, although the true figure is likely much higher due to difficulties in establishing distracted driving as a cause in many cases . Employers should have distracted driving policies in place so that employees need not fear being reprimanded for failing to pick up the phone while driving when their boss is on the other end of the line.

Personal injury law

As distracted driving accidents continue to climb, it is important for those who have been victims of such accidents to get help. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims in a number of way, including by showing them how to pursue whatever financial compensation they may be eligible for.