Distracted driving: Are you and your policyholders addressing liability exposures?
Cluett, Charles River, True North Advisors, Kyrus Mobil and AT&T are
"Many of our insureds will be found liable for the actions of their employees behind the wheel of a vehicle," Bruce Cluett said. "Maybe it is now time that we promote a program that can and will minimize this exposure."
We are all tempted to check messages or answer calls while driving, even when prohibited by company policy. It's human nature to want to be responsive to customers and colleagues as timely as possible. What we may not appreciate, however, is the risk that this behavior creates, even for the best of drivers.
As an insurance professional, we have many responsibilities to our clients. One responsibility that many of us overlook is that of loss control and employee safety programs. It is not just the responsibility of the insurance company to offer and implement such programs. We need to recognize an exposure such as distracted driving and discuss this exposure with our client.
"Claims and their reserves, as we know, have a huge impact on our clients/insureds premiums," Cluett said. "Both workers' comp and commercial auto are experience rated."
With distracted driving, it is one thing to identify the exposure and then create a written company policy, requesting that each employee sign the policy. But how do we monitor this company policy and make sure the employee abides by this policy? What is needed is a true enforcement provision to ensure the safety of its drivers and protect the company from the inherent risk this activity creates.
Cluett is working with a manufacturer that not only has a device that will eliminate this exposure, but will monitor each device and report back to the program administrator if any one device has been deemed to be out of compliance with company policy.
SafeRoad Fleet™ and SafeRoad Home™ helps us control that temptation by disabling texting, voice calls and other distracting applications while driving. SafeRoad Fleet uses a small safety device that plugs into a universal port and connects wirelessly via Bluetooth with software running on the phone. When the vehicle starts moving, phone use is immediately disabled — no texting, emails or web-surfing. Once the vehicle stops, the phone immediately becomes fully operational. SafeRoad Home works by connecting to a vehicle's built-in Bluetooth.
SafeRoad Fleet™ also has a full suite of security provisions to prevent tampering and provide auditable compliance reports to ensure that the system is always installed and running. A company manager or administrator can pull up a range of reports that show who is in compliance with company policy, and who is not. These reports can demonstrate to the police or a jury that the driver was not being distracted by the phone when the accident occurred.
Have a phone policy in place?
1 in 5 Fortune 500 companies has banned phone use for all of its employees, and many more plan to so do in the next 12 months. 58% of 2000 smaller companies already have a ban in place. Moreover, according to the NSC, "99% of companies with bans have experienced no decrease in productivity – and some have seen an increase in productivity."
While having a policy is a good step, banning phone use alone is not a shield against liability.
"Even if the employer had a policy that banned the use of cell phones for business-related purposes while driving, if they did nothing to ensure that these policies are adequately communicated to its employees, they can still be held liable. The 'ostrich with its head in the sand' is never a good defense," said trial attorney Ira Leesfield.
Without auditing and compliance monitoring, employers effectively have no way of knowing — until after the accident has already happened.
Our team is currently working with insurance carriers — Large, medium and small — commercial risks with commercial fleet exposures — major telephone company, ambulance company, trucking company, delivery company, limousine company and others — as well as an auto manufacturer to help them solve this major problem of distracted driving.
If you have any interest in learning more about this Manufacturer and their Software Solution for Distracted Driving, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's work together to make the highways, streets and roads that our clients, family and friends drive on every day to be safe from drivers not paying attention.