A new study from auto insurance comparison site, The Zebra, says one demographic in particular has a bigger problem when it comes to answering a text or email from work while behind the wheel. According to a report on USA Today, the ubiquity of smartphones has created an expectation that workers will pretty much be always available. While that’s not a problem if you are sitting on your couch when your boss calls with a quick question, it can be a bigger issue if you are behind the wheel.
Distracted Driving Risks
Many workers say they are tempted to answer a text or email from the office no matter what they are doing. According to The Zebra study, younger workers (those who grew up with smartphones and constant texting), said they feel a higher degree of compulsion when it comes to answering work-related messages while driving. Among those who responded to the survey aged 18 to 34, 37 percent said they felt that pressure compared to an average of 25 percent across all age groups.
Checking your messages while driving may not seem like a big deal. But, there are real risks and consequences involved. Distracted driving kills nine people day, and approximately 3,500 per year. Also, distracted driving has a negative economic impact — $40 billion in losses each year. DUI crashes cost the economy $44 billion a year.
So, if you are checking your work messages when you drive and cause a car accident, can you be held liable? It’s not just the driver who can be held liable, but also his or her employer, who can be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses caused. This is why it is important for managers and supervisors to make it very clear to their staff that they value safety above everything else and that workers will not face reprisals for answering their messages quickly enough, if they are driving. Injured victims in such cases may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver and his or her employer.
The best way to remain safe when you are behind the wheel is to put your cell phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode or turn your phone off until you reach your destination. There is no text or email that is more important than the safety of your passengers, others on the roadway and you.