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Federal Officials Fight Distracted Driving On The Job

“It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality. We are asking employers to send a clear message to workers and supervisors that your company neither requires nor condones texting while driving,” said David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
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In 2010, there were more than 3,000 people killed and another 416,000 injured in distracted driving accidents. When a driver is engaging in business on their cell phone behind the wheel, their reaction time is delayed significantly. Their reaction time is about the same as a person who is legally drunk. The truth of the matter is that more text messages lead to more accidents.

Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys understand that a number of studies prove that drivers who read text messages behind the wheel take their attention off of driving for an average of 4.6 seconds. When you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, that means that you can drive the entire length of a football field without ever setting eyes on the road. And that’s mostly the reason why more workers are killed each year in motor vehicle accidents that from any other cause.

There’s no question that new communications technologies are helping business work smarter and faster. But getting work done faster does not justify the dramatically increased risk of injury and death that result from texting while driving. Workers’ safety is an employer’s business. As a business owner or a supervisor, it’s your responsibility to safeguard drivers at work.

What employers should do:

-Prohibit drivers from texting behind the wheel. Make the vehicle a “text-free zone.”

-Establish certain work procedures and rules that don’t make it necessary for workers to use their phone behind the wheel.

-Make sure that workers have a safe place and time to tend to business on their phone, whether communicating with other workers, managers or customers.

-Make sure that you incorporate these practices into their training and orientation.

-Get rid of all incentives that may encourage workers to text behind the wheel.

And employers better abide. OSHA is ready to act quickly if there is ever a credible complaint that an employer is requiring driving workers to text message while they’re behind the wheel. If a company is guilty of these practices, serious penalties and fines can follow.

On September 30, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging:

-While driving government-owned vehicles.

-When using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or
-While driving privately owned vehicles when they’re on official government business.

Stay safe on the job and stay safe behind the wheel — hang up and pay attention.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim– 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:

Protecting Women in the Construction Industry, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 3, 2013

Training to Get A Job — And To Protect Yourself, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog, August 21, 2013