FORT MYERS, Fla. – (Feb. 16, 2017) – Business fleet owners should be aware of fleet liability issues caused by distracted driving, according to risk advisors at Lykes Insurance, a premier Florida-based commercial insurance firm.
“Distracted driving causes more than 25 percent of U.S. auto collisions, creating a huge impact on public safety and more than $33 billion annually in insurance claims,” says Nick Leone, risk advisor with Lykes Insurance. “Companies that own vehicles must be proactive in eliminating this risk and taking steps to control mobile device use while employees are on the road.”
Jennifer Butler, Lykes Insurance risk advisor, adds that distracted drivers create one of the largest exposures they see in fleet liability. Employees who use phones and other devices in a company vehicle create an unaddressed liability that can put a company at serious risk, both legally and financially.
Butler refers to an AT&T survey of 1,000 drivers that states that 98 percent know the dangers of texting and driving, yet 75 percent continue to do it. In addition to the human risk to employees, these actions are leading to distracted-driving lawsuits. With this new weapon in the plaintiff lawyer’s arsenal, companies that allow their employees to talk or text while behind the wheel are increasingly being held responsible.
Following are two high profile cases Leone and Butler cite:
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Coca-Cola Hit with a $21 Million Distracted Driving Judgment, Risk Management Monitor
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Dyke Industries Involved in Distracted Driving Accident Causing Injury, Thomas J. Henry Law Firm
There are additional costs due to accidents that businesses can incur as a result of distracted driving:
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Increased insurance costs
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Increased Workers’ Compensation claims and experience rating increase
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Decreased productivity and morale
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Reputational damage to the company’s brand
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Punitive damages
In the event a fleet owner does not have a mobile device policy, Butler and Leone emphasize the importance of establishing one to help reduce the chance of accidents. However, this does not prevent the company from facing liability when an accident does occur.
“The piece of the puzzle missing most frequently in these policies is enforcement and auditing employee compliance,” says Leone. “Without this, the fleet owner has no way of knowing whether employees are using mobile devices while driving. A business must demonstrate it has done everything possible to enforce employee compliance to receive top insurance carrier consideration and best in class pricing.”
In terms of prevention, there are a number of technologies on the market today that are capable of disabling mobile phones in a moving vehicle and returning them to service when stopped. Lykes Insurance advocates the use of this technology and encourages fleet owners to work with their risk advisor to make the necessary investments and ensure the correct policies are in place to protect the lives of employees and others on the road. And, while doing so, they will be protecting their company’s brand and bottom line.
About Lykes Insurance
Lykes Insurance was founded in 1925 by Lykes Bros. Inc., a 101 year-old privately held Florida-based company. As a premier commercial insurance firm with offices in Tampa, Fort Myers, Winter Park and Sarasota, Lykes Insurance focuses on building long lasting partnerships with companies and individuals, providing protection for businesses, managing risk and designing innovative employee benefit solutions. For more information, please visit www.lykesinsurance.com.