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Cell Phone Distractions Often Cause Work-Related Transportation Accidents in Boston, Statewide

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts work-related transportation incidents killed 14 workers on the job in 2010. Only fall accidents resulted in more work fatalities for Massachusetts workers last year. Transportation incidents were the leading cause of occupational deaths nationwide in 2010.
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Essex County workers’ compensation lawyers understand that work-related transportation incidents are more probable this time of year, especially within the trucking and transportation industries. Tractor-trailers, FedEx and UPS trucks and postal vehicles are running more frequently this time of year to make sure shipments get delivered on time to merchants, retailers and consumers. Like any other job that requires extensive periods on roadways, these workers are at particular risk of a transportation accident while performing their duties.

In the news recently is a final rule announcement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that trucking and commercial bus companies are now prohibited from allowing drivers to talk on a hand-held cell phone while they drive. The announcement is the latest in the movement to get distracted drivers off of U.S roadways. Drivers found in violation of the new federal policy will be fined up to $2,750 in civil penalties and risk suspension of their commercial driver’s license for multiple citation of offenses. Employers at trucking and charter bus companies could face up to a maximum penalty of $11,000 for allowing employees to use a cell phone while driving on company time.

Trucking and commercial bus companies are the latest target in banning the use of cell phones while driving nationwide but these two industries aren’t the only ones at risk of a transportation accident. In fact, all types of companies use transportation as a method of performing a job task. Nationwide, large and small companies in private and public sectors require employees to spend time on U.S. roadways in order to complete job responsibilities.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) recently conducted a Strength in Numbers study involving 36 companies that have a combined fleet of 350,000 passenger vehicles. NETS collected data over a 12-month period and found the following to be the best practices used by companies with the lowest employee crash rate:

-Companies keep a monthly tracking of crashes per million miles.

-Companies with the lowest crash per million miles publish a road safety scorecard once a month for employees.

-Top performing companies had a higher rate of cell phone ban policies in place which prohibit employees from talking or texting while driving a company vehicle.

-When a crash occurred with a company vehicle, the entire organization was gathered to learn from the seriousness of the crash.

Following the study, NETS brought together participants at a conference to review the findings. Several global leaders participated from the following industries: insurance, manufacturing, oil and gas, food and beverage, packaging and pharmaceutical. The goal of the program was to share company policies and procedures that are effective in reducing transportation incidents and keeping workers safe.

Since so many industries require employees to travel on roadways to perform certain duties, it is vital that companies implement a no cell phone policy for all employees. In addition, employers should put employee safety first in reducing the number of transportation incidents by easing up on the workload and not requiring extensive hours to complete job tasks when long hours of driving are required.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC if you have been injured in a Massachusetts work-related transportation accident. Injured workers should call 1-877-617-5333 for a free consultation and sound advice about your rights from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

More Blog Entries:
OSHA Issues New Workers Rights Booklet to Help Reduce Work-Related Accidents in Boston and Elsewhere, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, November 16, 2011.

Majority of 2010 Private Sector Workers’ Compensation Claims are Injury-Related in Massachusetts, Nationwide, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, November 7 2011.

Premiums Increase as Work-Related Accidents in Massachusetts and Elsewhere Decrease, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 5, 2011.