Washington Car Accident Attorney Encourages Employers to Adopt Distracted Driving Policies in 2012

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As a new year starts, companies should take steps to ensure that their employees are not texting or talking on cell phones while driving on company time – or else they may face liability for accidents, says Dean Brett of Brett Murphy – Washington’s Injury Lawyers.

Car, auto, motor vehicle, accident, crash, collision, distracted driving, cell phones, texting while driving, negligence, lawyer, attorney, personal injury, lawsuit, Seattle, Washington, WA

Washington injury lawyer Dean Brett

The bottom line is that the use of any electronic device takes one’s attention away from driving and creates the unacceptable risk of causing a collision with another car, motorcycle or pedestrian.

Employers should start off the new year by reviewing or adopting policies that address distracted driving by their employees – especially texting or talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel – Washington car accident attorney Dean Brett said today.

Brett, whose Washington personal injury firm represents automobile accident victims and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, pointed to a recent National Transportation Safety Board report finding that 3,092 Americans were killed in 2010 in car crashes that involved the use of phones and other distractions.

“Under Washington law, an employer can be held liable for the wrongful acts of its employees if those acts occur within the scope of their employment,” Brett said. “So, that means a company could face serious consequences if one of its workers causes a car accident on company time due to distracted driving, such as talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash.

“As the new year starts, it would be a good time for employers to take a look at their distracted driving policy to make sure it specifically addresses the use of electronic devices, and if they don’t have such a policy, it would be wise to adopt one,” he said.

At a minimum, companies should require employees to comply with Washington law, according to Brett. Since 2008, the state has prohibited adult drivers from texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving except for emergency situations and for on-duty public safety workers.

In 2010, the state upgraded violations of those laws from secondary to primary offenses. This means that drivers can be pulled over and ticketed for breaking those laws just as they could for speeding or running through a stop sign.

Brett said employers should go a step beyond Washington law. In his view, they should completely ban texting or talking on a cell phone – regardless of whether the electronic device is hand-held or hands-free.

He cited a 2009 study by the National Safety Council that found that hand-held and hands-free cell phones are equally dangerous for drivers, especially in terms of impairing reaction times. Brett also noted that the National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that all 50 states enact complete cell phone bans for drivers.

“The bottom line is that the use of any electronic device takes one’s attention away from driving and creates the unacceptable risk of causing a collision with another car, motorcycle or pedestrian,” Brett said. “A policy which bans the use of all types of cell phones while driving protects not only a company’s employees from harm but other innocent people as well.”

Brett said that anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle collision caused by distracted driving should contact an experienced Washington car accident lawyer to discuss their legal rights and options.

“At our firm, we pursue all avenues in making sure accident victims and their families are fairly and fully compensated, and that includes taking action against employers if it is appropriate,” Brett said.

About Brett Murphy – Washington’s Injury Lawyers

Brett Murphy – Washington’s Injury Lawyers is a Washington personal injury law firm with offices in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellingham, Mt. Vernon and Vancouver, Washington. The firm represents car accident victims, including those injured in DUI/DWI accidents, and other personal injury victims throughout the state of Washington. The firm’s practice areas also include motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, boating accidents, construction accidents, railroad collisions and aviation crashes. For more information, call the firm at (800) 925-1875 or use its online contact form.


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