Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a concern for employers whose workers spend time driving on the job, either in a personal vehicle or a company-provided vehicle. Employers can generally be held liable for an employee's negligence while acting within the scope of his or her employment duties or for the employer's benefit. For example, if the employer instructed the employee to stop by the store to pick up some office supplies on his way to work, and the employee caused an accident while driving to the store, the employer could be held liable.

Many accidents are caused each year by drivers who are distracted by their cell phones. Employers are increasingly being sued and found liable when an employee causes a crash while making work-related phone calls, emails, or texts.

In California, it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving, unless the driver uses a hands-free device while speaking on the phone. It is also illegal in California to text while driving.

California's Legislature passed the "Freedom to Communicate" act (AB 1536) earlier this year. The bill allows hands-free texting if the driver uses a specifically designed, voice operated device to dictate, send or listen to text-based communications. The legislation will take effect on January 1, 2013. The question is whether smart phones with a voice-activation feature such as Siri would be legal to use. Generally speaking, it will not be legal to hold a phone and speak into it to send or listen to a text message. Rather, a motorist must use a hands-free device, such as a headset or an earpiece, or an in-dash system like OnStar, to send or listen to text messages.

If some of your employees drive for work-related purposes as part of their job, your employee handbook should contain policies covering employee behavior while driving. The written policy should prohibit using cell phones for any purpose while driving, unless the employee is using a hands-free device. You may even want to prohibit use of hands-free devices. Although using hands-free devices is not against the law, it can still lead to distracted driving and employer liability.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Premium Av Preeminent 5.0 out 5 Rating Peer Review Rated LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell Avvo Super Lawyers OC Metro Register
Contact

How Can We Help You?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Office Locations

Irvine Office
38 Corporate Park
Irvine, CA 92606

Phone: 949-345-1621
Fax: 949-261-8800
Irvine Law Office Map

Los Angeles Office
3435 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2700
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Phone: 949-345-1621
Phone: 213-232-1633
Map & Directions

Temecula Office
41955 Fourth St., Suite 315
Temecula, CA 92590

Phone: 949-345-1621
Phone: 951-331-4520
Fax: 951-257-0450
Map & Directions

Sacramento Office
2620 J Street #1
Sacramento, CA 95816

Phone: 949-345-1621
Phone: 916-266-9000
Fax: 916-266-9001
Map & Directions

San Diego Office
11682 El Camino Real, Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92130

Phone: 949-345-1621
Phone: 858-436-0268
Fax: 858-436-0279
Map & Directions

Las Vegas Office
1050 Indigo Dr., Suite 200
Las Vegas, NV 89145

Phone: 949-345-1621
Phone: 702-260-9500
Fax: 702-260-9434
Map & Directions