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Employer cell phone policies making strides in reducing South Florida car accidents

One in 5 Fortune 500 companies have banned employees from using cell phones while driving for work, according to a new study by the National Safety Council.

The risk of a distracted driving car accident in Fort Pierce, Fort Lauderdale or the surrounding areas is particularly acute because Florida is one of a dwindling number of states that has no law preventing drivers from using cell phones or text messaging while driving. In fact, the Governors Highway Safety Association reports eight states have banned the use of hand-held cell phones altogether, while 30 states have banned text messaging by drivers.

Our personal injury lawyers in Hollywood, Margate and Coral Gables applaud companies who have taken proactive measure to protect employees who travel as part of their jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to report that car accidents are a leading cause of fatal on-the-job accidents. In 2009, a total of 1,682 employees were killed in transportation accidents, accounting for nearly 4 in 10 of all job-related deaths in the United States.

The NSC reports that the results of its two-year effort aimed at employers is starting to show, however, cell phones remain the number one distraction inside vehicles.

“In January 2009, NSC called for a ban on all cell phone use while driving because research identified the behavior as dangerous. A driver is four times as likely to crash while talking on a cell phone while driving,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the Council. “Now, in 2011, our call to action is getting results, and our nation’s top employers are taking steps to protect their employees and communities in which they operate by implementing total cell phone bans.”

The NSC reports nearly one-fourth of the nation’s car accidents involve cell phones and permitting cell phone use by employees who drive as part of their job can open a company to significant liability. Situations in which an employer has been held liable include:

-During work hours and outside typical work yours.

-To and from work appointments and for personal reasons.

-In either a personal vehicle or a company-owned vehicle.

-While on the phone for either personal or business reasons.

-Using either an employer-provided phone or personal cell phone.

-Using both hands-free and hand-held devices.

The West Palm Beach injury attorneys at Freeman & Mallard are dedicated to helping motorists who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

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