The news has been filled the past several weeks with reports on the dangers of texting while driving.  Texting, along with cell phone use have been reported to be double the potential for an accident compared to driving under the influence.  Frankly I am not surprised.  I recall being in the car with a co-worker and actually being the eyes on the road while they fiddled with the cell phone and blackberry, warning them to stop, slow down or watch out as they checked the latest e-mails.   In many Cities, ordinances have been passed which do not allow for cell phones to be used by driver’s while driving, or require that a hands free device be used to reduce distractions.  In many areas there is talk about banning texting while driving as well.

The challenges businesses face is that a distracted employee, using a company car or on company business, becomes the companies responsibility in the event of an auto accident.  Not only will the business incur additional costs for any injury to the employee or damage to the vehicle, but they will also become responsible for damage caused by the employee, including property, medical and liability to any injured parties.

Many companies reacted to the distracted driver issue in the past by instituting policies that prohibited the use of cell phones while an employee is operating a vehicle.  If employees were found operating a cell phone while driving, progressive discipline would be administered up to and including termination.  

This policy fell in line with other company policies that would “inhibit” the operation of a vehicle or other machinery such as discipline or termination for employees at work while “under the influence” or hiring policies that would not allow employment to individuals with a DUI that would be operating a company vehicle.

The policies were initially designed to help reduce the costs associated with accidents, and as an outgrowth of that may help to reduce insurance premiums.  If the policy reduces the number and severity of accidents, the reduction will be taken into account at the next renewal.  After all if you are reducing the overall cost of risk by implementing these types of policies, it affects not only your company, but reduces the risk for the insurance company as well. 

I would urge you to strongly consider implementing a no texting while driving policy at your company (and no cell phone use while driving as well), it will not only save lives but save money as well.