Insurance Institute warns of texting while driving and company liability

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Earlier this year, Colorado joined 13 other states in banning the practice of texting while driving, but according to some insurance industry officials, the law’s purview is not limited to individuals.

Employers are now concerned that they may be held liable for accidents caused by their employees while driving and conducting work-related conversations on cell phones, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“Under the doctrine of vicarious responsibility, employers may be held legally accountable,” institute officials said this week in a statement.

Spokeswoman Jeanne Salvatore said research shows that motorists talking on a cellphone, whether it is hand-held or hands-free, are four times more likely to crash than other drivers and are as likely to cause an accident as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.

A 2006 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that driver inattention is the leading factor in almost 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes.

More recently, a July 2009 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found that texting while driving is far more dangerous than previously estimated. The collision risk became 23 times higher when motorists were texting while driving.

One Response to Insurance Institute warns of texting while driving and company liability

  1. First a quick insurance lesson, your employee’s auto insurance is ALWAYS primary (their coverage responds first) and the employer’s insurance is excess.

    I don’t think this concept the III has stated here will stand up in court. Basically the same rule would have to apply to the rest of us. What they are saying is that you are liable if you call your friend on his/her cell phone and they happen to get into an accident, you are vicariously liable???

    Sorry I’m just not buying it, sounds to me like the III is run by ambulance chasing attorneys looking for deep pockets, and not by actual insurance industry people…

    September 3, 2009 at 12:15 pm