Pressure to attend work calls makes distracted driving worse

A recent survey says many drivers engage in distracted driving so as not to miss out on work-related calls.

Distracted driving, as the Hartford Courant reports, caused 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries in 2015. Those figures mean that distracted driving is now one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. While cellphones, especially texting, emailing, and calling, have largely been blamed for fueling the distracted driving epidemic, what is not often discussed is how people's vehicles have begun to resemble an extension of their office. A new study has found that many people who commute to work talk, text, or email with work colleagues while driving.

Working and driving

The study surveyed 1,000 Americans who regularly commute to work. The Harris Poll was commissioned by Travelers Insurance as part of its newly created public policy arm, the Travelers Institute. As the Washington Post reports, the survey found that 43 percent of respondents communicated with work colleagues while driving, either by talking on the phone, texting, or emailing.

Younger people were far more likely to engage in work-related communications than older people. The survey found that 54 percent of respondents 18 to 44 years old used their cellphones to talk with work colleagues while driving, compared to a third of older drivers. A quarter of respondents in the younger age group also said they felt pressured to talk with work colleagues over the phone while driving due to fear that their employer would be displeased if they didn't.

Developing distracted driving policies

The study shines a light on the important role employers play in the distracted driving issue. As work increasingly spreads beyond the office and becomes more mobile , employers should make it clear to employees that distracted driving, even if it involves work-related calls, is actively discouraged. A distracted driving policy should be developed by employers and employers themselves should set an example for their employees by refusing to engage in distracted driving.

Employers that don't discourage distracted driving but rather encourage it should be made aware that there are serious liability risks for them. The American Association for Justice, as the Washington Post notes, has warned employers that they could be held liable for accidents involving their employees if those accidents are a result of work-related communications.

What to do after an accident

A car accident can be a devastating experience, but especially so when it is discovered that the cause of the accident was another driver texting or talking on a phone while behind the wheel. For those who have been injured in a crash caused by another driver's negligence, it is important to reach out for legal help. A personal injury attorney can show clients what legal remedies may be available and can assist them with making claims for whatever financial compensation they may be entitled to.