person driving while on the cell phone

Employer Distracted Driving Policies

Imagine a scenario in which a certain work-related behavior puts your employees at a 4 times greater risk of injury. Would you ignore that behavior? When employers allow or encourage cell phone use by their employees in vehicles, that is essentially what they are doing. Consider this:

  • The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 24% of car crashes in 2010 involved cell phone use.
  • Vehicular accidents are the number 1 cause of work-related fatalities.
  • The costs to employers when company car crashes occur can be crippling.
  • A recent survey of NSC members found that 99% of companies that have a cell-phone policy in place did not experience any loss of productivity (the biggest excuse companies have for not having a cell-phone policy – many companies find that productivity actually increases).

All these facts are just a technical way to say that having and enforcing company-wide distracted driving policies makes sense!

Where do you begin? The first step is to create the policy itself. Make it a part of your overall health and safety program. In order to reduce risk of injury and minimize liability, the best safety practice is to enforce a total ban. This includes the use of handheld and hands-free devices (brain research shows that just holding a conversation can decrease your driving effectiveness). It should apply to all employees, all company vehicles, all company-issued cell phones, and all company communication in vehicles, regardless of ownership. By instituting a total ban, there will be no confusion as to what’s allowed and what isn’t. You’ll also want to determine how you will enforce the policy and what the repercussions are for employees who break the rules.

The next step is to educate your employees. There will likely be some resistance to the new policy. Listen to what they have to say and respond appropriately. Explain your reasoning for instituting this change and provide information and resources to help them understand the importance of your distracted driving policy. Ensure that all employees receive a copy of the new policy and that they sign and return a copy to you.

And finally, you have to implement the policy. Some things you can do to help employees adhere to the policy are:

  • Continue to educate them throughout the year.
  • Provide assistance in scheduling/daily planning so that employees can be more productive during times in which they are not on the road.
  • Install apps on company phones that do not allow calls to be made or received while traveling.
  • Avoid scheduling conference calls when employees are traveling.
  • Suggest employees pull over and park in a safe place to make or receive an important call.
  • Suggest employees create a voicemail message that explains to their callers that they will not answer the phone if they are driving.
  • If necessary, follow through with the consequences you laid out in your policy.

Many people will tell you that there are plenty of distractions for drivers (changing the radio station, putting on make-up, eating, etc.); so why should we make such a big deal over cell phones in cars? The answer is that because of the sheer prevalence of cell phones, the risk is that much greater: there are now more cell phone policies in the US than there are people living in the US. People also spend a greater amount of time using cell phones in their cars. The NSC states, “The combination of high risk and high exposure makes cell phone use while driving a top distraction.” There are very few good excuses left when it comes to instituting a company-wide cell-phone policy, so get started on yours today.

Helpful Links for Distracted Driving Policies:


This information is provided as a service to you by Compliance Consultants, Inc.