Manage risk with cell phone policy- simple steps can help protect businesses, their employees and the public from distracted driving


Employee s who multitask while driving on company time pose a big risk to their employers. Employers can be held liable for an accident caused by an employee’s distracted driving, if the employee is acting within the course and scope of his employment. Now there is a new risk on the road: employees who text while driving. In the past 10 years, the phenomenon of texting has grown exponentially. In 2002, the average monthly volume of text messages was 1 million and by 2008 that number had grown to 110 million.2 Texting behind the wheel accounted for more than 16,000 deaths between 2002 and 2007.3

Contrary to popular belief, texting while driving isn’t just for teenagers. A recent study found that adults are just as likely as teenagers to text while driving.4 Nearly half of all adults who text admit that they have sent or read a text message while driving. 5 Those texting adults could be your employees. In the face of this texting mania, Georgia has recently joined the growing number of states that are combating texting-related automobile accidents by enacting laws that prohibit texting while driving.6 To protect themselves, their employees and the public, businesses should implement policies to ensure that employees aren’t being driven to distraction by texting.

The fact that employers can be held liable for employees’ negligence is nothing new. An employer can be held liable for an employee’s negligence under the doctrine of respondeat superior, more commonly known as vicarious liability or imputed negligence. In Georgia, for example, employers can be held liable for their employees’ negligent acts under O.C.G.A. § 51-2-2 which states that “[e]very person shall be liable for torts committed by his … servant by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily.” As the language of the law suggests, an employer will only be held liable for an employee’s negligence when the employee is acting within the scope of his employment. 7

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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