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Leaving work one day last week, following a late afternoon thunderstorm, I found the roads and highways to be one huge parking lot. I had an appointment an hour later and was wondering if I would even make it.
So I did what most normal people do with cell phones, IPhones and BlackBerries, I started making a round of calls to family and friends to pass the time. When I couldn't reach anyone, my level of stress only became greater as the traffic was barely moving and I had no distractions! I realize when a person is driving, the intent is for them to pay attention and NOT be doing other things, but I needed something to do to pass the time. I had already read and sent a couple of emails, so what now? I am ashamed to say this, as I feel I'm a responsible, law-abiding citizen, but being terribly bored and frustrated, I grabbed my BlackBerry and started playing a game of Sudoku! Yes, it's a great stress reliever for me, but certainly not meant to be done by someone behind the wheel in a car!
This brings me to the current trend in many states to enact legislation restricting driving while texting ("DWT"). The federal government has imposed restrictions on commercial truck and bus drivers, as well as on federal employees, making it illegal for them to DWT. The State of Georgia just passed a law imposing fines for those found DWT. I understand this will be difficult to monitor, but yet it has become quite necessary -- not just for me, but probably for most of you reading this blog. Oprah has launched a "No Phone Zone" campaign asking people to pledge not to use their phones while driving.
With all this talk, all this legislation, and raising of public awareness, what is Corporate America doing, if anything, to restrict DWT activities by their employees? Many companies are introducing policies, not only to raise employee awareness, but also, in some instances, to impose disciplinary action, should employees violate the policy. Some companies are even asking employees to sign an acknowledgement pledging to not violate the DWT policy. If an employee is involved in a car accident while on company business and they were DWT, it presents an increased liability to the company and to the company's insurance carrier. And should there be serious damages, or at worst, fatalities, both the employee and the company are tremendously exposed.
As employees, we should all take responsibility and take some ownership of this problem. We need to, when driving:
- Avoid placing and receiving phone calls, unless we have a hands-free device
- Stop all texting of any sort - no excuses
And if you are calling someone who is away from the office, it is strongly advised that you discontinue a conversation or texting back and forth if you know they are driving, as you are putting the driver at risk. We, at MATRIX, are looking into developing this type of policy in the near future.
Oh, and for those that are wondering, I did finally make it to my appointment, one hour and 55 minutes later!
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