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January 19, 2010
Posted in General Interest

Policy Regarding Use of Handheld Electronic Devices while Driving

Companies that provide employees with cell phones, or require employees to be available (implicitly or explicitly) by cell phone for work purposes, should ensure that they have a policy in place regarding the use of cell phones while driving. The statistics on collisions caused by distracted cell phone-talking drivers are all over the news these days, as the new ban on using handsets while driving will come into effect this month.

Companies should be familiar with the new law and ensure that they have policies, which they actively enforce, either prohibiting or severely restricting and controlling the use of cell phones by employees while driving in the course of employment. Employers are typically considered in law to be vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees. For example, if a property manager talking on a cell phone driving from one condominium site to another causes a collision and as a result, people are injured, the property management company may become knee-deep in litigation with insurance companies and/or as a defendant in a civil claim. Having a cell phone policy or prohibition will not necessarily change this, but it could assist a company by reducing the likelihood that an employee would cause a collision in the first place, or could assist in a company's defence by showing that it took steps to prevent such an accident by implementing the policy restricting the employee's conduct while driving.

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