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Woman Texting While DrivingSimilarly to driving while intoxicated, using a cell phone while driving unnecessarily puts the driver and others at risk of injury- or even death. Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is one of the most risky distractions that can lead to an accident. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) study revealed that drivers that text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. And, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), at any time in the day, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices.

To address this issue, lawmakers in New York are proposing police officers use the Textalyzer - a new device that is the digital equivalent of the Breathalyzer. This roadside test would be administered when the police arrive at the scene of a crash. Using the Textalyzer, the officer could tap into the operating system and check for recent activity on the phones of individuals involved in the accident. Failure to hand over a phone could lead to similar consequences of refusing a Breathalyzer, such as the suspension of a driver's license.

Foreseeing privacy concerns to be a major obstacle, Félix W. Ortiz, sponsor of the bipartisan Textalyzer bill, said the Textalyzer would not give police access to the content of any email or text. If the Textalyzer were to pass in New York, it could spread in the same manner as how the hands-free rules spread.

What This Could Mean for Your Employees Who Drive on Company Business


Say the Textalyzer passes in your state. In this scenario, one of your employees is on his way to meet a client for lunch. While driving, he receives a text from the client saying they'll have to reschedule. Looking down to respond to the text, your employee runs a red light and another vehicle clips the back end your employee's car. A Textalyzer administered at the crash site would reveal your employee was on his phone at the time of the crash, which would result in whatever penalties the state sets for that offense, such as fines, points on his license, or worse, if anyone was injured.

Even if this scenario were to happen under today's laws, it would mean bad news for your business. If you don't maintain and enforce a cell phone policy, for instance, you as an employer could be held liable for the acts or omissions of your employees.

Currently, 14 states prohibit the use of hand-held devices by drivers, and 46 ban texting, with penalties ranging from a $25 fine in South Carolina to $200 fines elsewhere, and even points assessed against the driver's license. For drivers with Commercial Driver's Licenses (CDLs), the penalties are usually more severe, depending on the state. An employee who receives multiple violations of a law that prohibits texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle could result in your CDL driver being disqualified for up to 120 days.

The potential use of the Textalyzer is just one more of the many reasons your employees should not use their phones while driving on company time. To access tips to share with your drivers on how to handle phones in the car, or to learn how to mitigate your business' auto-related risks, visit www.cna.com/driverperformance.

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Make sure your company is protected. Call Prestige Insurance Group, Inc. at (305) 969-8778 for a free Florida commercial auto insurance quote.
(Article Courtesy: Robert C Beneze, Jr. via CNA)
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