Distracted driving has become one of the biggest threats to road safety in today’s society. According to the latest statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 391,000 people were injured and 3,477 were killed in distracted driving accidents. In spite of these alarmingly high numbers, an estimated 660,000 people still use cell phones or other hand-held devices while they drive.
These statistics should scare any driver, but what happens if driving is an integral part of your job? What happens if you’re involved in a distracted driving accident at work?
Workplace car accidents by the numbers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of workplace fatalities. Of the work-related car accidents recorded in their latest study (published in 2015), two-thirds happen on public roadways. This means delivery drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, commercial truck drivers and others who need to commute on the clock are most at risk of getting into an accident while at work.
Preventing distracted driving accidents at work
Both employers and employees share the responsibility for reducing the risk of distracted driving accidents where they can. The CDC recommends employers implement policies that:
- Strictly prohibit using hand-held devices while driving company vehicles or for work purposes
- Limit or ban the use of hands-free devices while driving for work, as these are just as distracting
- Require employees to pull over into a safe location to take a call, to send or receive a text, or to use a GPS device
- Make distracted driving policies – and the consequences of not following them – clear to all employees and managers
- Conduct distracted driving seminars on a regular basis
You can make similar commitments, even if they are not mandated by your employer. Practice making a personal habit of leaving your phone in your pocket or purse while driving, even if it buzzes or alerts you to new messages. Punch in driving directions before putting the car into drive. The more you can do to reduce your own risk, the safer the roads will be.
Is workers’ compensation available?
Unfortunately, even the safest drivers could become victims of a distracted driving crash. Generally speaking, accidents that occur on your commute to and from your workplace do not qualify for workers’ compensation. However, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation if you were driving on company time and the other driver’s negligence caused the crash.
It’s often a good idea to discuss your particular case with an attorney who handles workers’ compensation claims. He or she can advise you on what compensation or legal actions may be possible.