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Employers' role in preventing commercial vehicle accidents

A commercial vehicle accident can have a greater number of legal implications than a personal car accident, given that the incident may also directly affect the driver's employer. A report from 2010 showed that motor vehicle accidents were the top cause of work-related fatalities and accounted for almost one-quarter of occupational injuries that were fatal.

Commercial vehicle accidents also seem to have a huge financial impact on the employer of the injured party. Studies showed that, on average, an employer may have to incur costs of nearly $200,000 for each incident of property damage and personal injury.

The same study also showed that a significant number of these incidents can be linked to distracted drivers using their cell phones while driving. Employers should note that accidents attributed to distracted drivers who are using cell phones while behind the wheels have recently met with intense public scrutiny. Therefore, it may not be possible for employers to argue that they were not aware of the dangers of allowing drivers to use cellphones and they may be held liable legally.

Employers must try to maintain a standard of safety above that which is prescribed by the law if they are to prevent or mitigate the costs of these accidents. This can be viewed as a sensible option by employers since the standards prescribed by state and federal regulations outline the minimum requirements which may not be completely adequate for maintaining total safety on the road.

For example, it may be viewed as a prudent move on part of the employer to enforce the 2011 recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, which urged all 50 states and the District of Colombia to issue a ban on all portable electronic devices, even hands-free devices, for all drivers.

Source: NSC.org, "Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies," Accessed on Sept. 11, 2014

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