Fleet News

Companies risk huge penalties for drivers who cause accidents whilst on the phone

What happens in the United States usually reaches the UK, and with companies being sued for the “distracted driving” of their employees, it won’t be long before blanket bans for the use of mobile phones will be a feature of many UK driving policies.

That is the warning from Jonathan Mosley, director of sales and marketing at E-Training World who points to recent US lawsuits which have seen instances of major companies being sued for the likes of $21.6 million, $18 million and $16.1 million.

“The personal injury claim culture that is now so prevalent in the UK started in the US,” said Jonathan, “and so it’s inevitable that we will begin to see similar legal cases made against UK companies. What isn’t clear is over what timescale.

“However, for any company that doesn’t have watertight policies in place regarding the use of mobile phones it will be a wakeup call to see this litigation culture emerging in the States, and that cases are being won which begins to set precedents.”

Estimates by the US National Safety Council show that a quarter of all crashes in America involve cell phones or texting, equating to approximately 1.2 million accidents a year.

The payout of $21.6 was due to a driver in a company car who didn't react when traffic slowed, rear-ending a Honda in a chain-reaction crash that killed a 32-year-old woman.
The $18 million compensation was for an Alabama trucking company for an accident that happened when one of its drivers reached for a cell phone.

“These are moments of distraction caused by mobile phones which have resulted in terrible accidents,” said Mosley, “and most drivers can relate to how easy it is to be distracted by their phone – even when hands free.

“However, as realisation of the safety issues grows, and companies fear being sued for their drivers’ actions, it may not be long before a far greater number of UK organisations put blanket bans in place.”

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