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Businesses whose employees text or place business-related calls while driving could be found vicariously liable, says Zurich

As Wisconsin becomes the 20th state to ban texting while driving, Zurich, a leading property and casualty insurance provider globally and in North America, believes that now is the time for businesses to take the initiative to help protect their employees—and themselves—from the potential dangers of distracted driving.

According to risk prevention specialists at Zurich Services Corporation, employers could be held vicariously liable if they permit employees to use particular technologies while driving. This could include operating a company-owned cellular phone or mobile device while driving. Since 2001, a growing number of jury awards have illustrated that businesses could be forced to pay the price for employees’ distracted driving.

“Not only have businesses put people at risk over their laissez-faire attitude towards technology usage in their workplaces—in most cases, they encourage it if it means increased productivity,” say Zurich’s Jim Noble, Line of Business Director – Motor Fleet, “but companies themselves—large and small—are now threatened if suddenly they’re faced with a hefty lawsuit caused by an employee’s negligence with an electronic device.”

“We recommend that a prudent practice for every company to consider is developing an electronics usage policy and implementing it uniformly to help proactively manage this risk in their operations where physical exposures exist,” said A.V. Riswadkar, Product Liability Director.

Guidelines for creating an electronic usage policy include:

      Restricting use of all types of technologies (cell phone, Blackberry,
      laptop, MP3 player) in the company distracted driving policy
      Prohibiting use of non-work related technology gadgets in non-office
      work areas to help minimize distractions and other safety-related
      hazards
      Enforcing rules consistently and fairly with all employees

While electronics usage policies by themselves do not guarantee success in preventing risks associated with distracted driving, they may help reduce exposure and, more importantly, send a clear safety message to employees.

For more information on Zurich Risk Engineering, visit www.risk-engineering.com.

The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only.  All sample procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own procedures.  We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor.  We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein.  Moreover, Zurich  reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the
circumstances   The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any
specific insurance product nor will adopting these procedures ensure
coverage under any insurance policy.   Risk engineering services are
provided by Zurich Services Corporation.

About Zurich

Zurich’s North America Commercial and Global Corporate in North America business divisions are part of Zurich Financial Services Group (Zurich), an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in Asia Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Founded in 1872, the Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It employs approximately 60,000 people serving customers in more than 170 countries. In North America, Zurich (www.zurichna.com) is a leading commercial property-casualty insurance provider serving the global corporate, large corporate, middle market, specialties and programs sectors. Zurich’s risk engineering services in North America are provided by Zurich Services Corporation.

 Media contacts:
Brett McKenzie Wood
Zurich
(847) 605-8826
[email protected]

Steve McKay
Zurich
(847) 706-2265
[email protected]

Ms. Brett McKenzie Wood
Communications Specialist – Public Relations Zurich in North America
Email: [email protected]
Office: 847-605-8826
Cell: 847-271-9667

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