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Do employers make drivers feel obligated to drive while distracted?

Nearly every driver understands the risks of using a phone to call, text or browse the Internet while driving. Sadly, most people still engage in this distracted behavior.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are injured in crashes involving distracted driving. And according to recent studies, employers and bosses could play an unfortunate role in this troubling trend.

Workplace pressures, obligations inside the car

According to a recent distracted driving survey, about 50% of drivers between 18 and 44, and 33% of drivers between 45 and 64, use their phone for work-related purposes while driving. Another survey that focused on millennial drivers revealed that about 25% of those who use their phone while driving do so because they don’t want their bosses to get mad at them.

These studies paint a disturbing picture of people who feel obligated drive distracted – and are willing to put a job ahead of their own safety and the safety of those around them.

What can be done to stop this?

There are a number of things an employer can do to help curb dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

For instance, if your employees are required to drive to various sites for their job, you may want to institute a policy prohibiting them from taking a phone call – even hands-free – when behind the wheel. You could implement a policy that requires employees to pull off the road to respond to work-related calls, texts or emails.

You can also organize all-company trainings emphasizing that the company values safety, and highlighting the company’s understanding that an immediate response to a call or email is not always the best option.

In addition, if you operate a delivery business, consider examining whether certain company incentives to deliver products quickly could actually be pressuring employees to drive above the speed limit. Such pressures could make the company liable, in the event of an accident.

As an employer, creating a safe work environment should be a top priority. It can be worthwhile to consult with an employment lawyer about steps your company can take to enhance safety and protect the business from liability.