The Role of a Distracted-Driving Policy in a BYOD Workplace

Posted on 05-21-2014 by
Tags: cell phone , BYOD , Bring Your Own Device , Latest Headlines & Stories , trending news

"Risks and Rewards of a BYOD Workplace” was the subject of a series of presentations at the annual employment-law seminar last week. More and more employers are adopting BYOD policies with the state of Delaware as an early adopter in the BYOD arena, according to an article featured at the LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom |  Labor and Employment Law Blog.

Although BYOD policies are popular, they are not risk free. One (of the many) dangers of employee use of mobile technology is the potential for distracted driving. Regardless of who owns the device, employers may face liability for an employee who harms a third party due to the employee’s negligent use of a smartphone while driving.

Many cities and municipalities now prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle and using a cellphone unless they use hands-free device. Although this is a great start, it may not be enough to prevent liability for employers. The U.S. Department of Labor, for example, takes a very firm stance on this issue, stating:

Employers have a responsibility and legal obligation to have a clear, unequivocal, and enforced policy against texting while driving.

The author of the article says, “I’m not entirely sure that I would agree with this statement—I don’t know of any ‘legal obligation’ to have a distracted-driving policy. But I do think that employers should have a distracted-driving policy.”

The good news is that the federal government has provided a sample distracted-driving policy for employers to use. The policy is short and to the point and it makes clear that employees are prohibited from using a hand-held cellphone or smartphone while operating a vehicle.

For employers, if you don’t have a distracted-driving policy, consider whether this sample policy, provided by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration. Even if it’s just a starting point, employers are well advised to have something in place to prevent employees from endangering themselves or others while operating a vehicle. The NHSTA offers additional resources to employers who want to take further steps to prevent distracted driving by employers.

And, remember, just because it’s the employee’s own device does not mean that the employer won’t be held liable. A BYOD workplace is not a defense to a claim of negligence for harm caused by an employee in the course and scope of his or her employment. 

What do you think? Has your company or organization adopted a set of policies or guidelines regarding BYOD and driving? 


Posted on : 27 May 2014 3:01 PM

I would love to see every firm with a distracted driving policy.  My son was seriously injured by a distracted driver who ran a red light.  Hands-free systems are so simple to use now, but really, the call or text can wait.

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