Talking & Driving

By Staff

Athletic Management, 15.3, April/May 2003,

Now that cell phones have replaced whistles as many coaches’ constant companion, athletic directors may be interested to know that these communication tools come with liability concerns. Over the past few years, a handful of companies have found themselves on the wrong end of lawsuits claiming that an employee’s cell phone use was responsible for an automobile accident and that the company should be held responsible.

In one case, a lumber wholesaler was found liable for more than $20 million in damages after an employee was involved in a motor vehicle crash while allegedly talking on a cell phone. And the state of Hawaii agreed to pay $2.5 million after a state employee talking on a cell phone hit a pedestrian.

These types of incidents have led several companies to establish policies on cell phone use. According to a Braun Consulting Group newsletter, some areas to consider include:

• training on the safe use of cell phones
• banning cell phone use when driving or requiring the use of hands-free equipment
• limiting cell phone use to emergency situations when driving
• explicit instruction that cell phone use is secondary to driving safety
• ways to enforce the policies.