The next time you jump behind the wheel of the company van, be warned: Big Brother may be watching you. Worried about the cost of accidents caused by employees texting while driving – or even worse – using tablets, employers are getting pretty creative about finding ways to stop the practice.
A study by software provider Aegis Mobility revealed that while 70 percent of companies have adopted written policies designed to curb employees' distracted driving, only 32 percent are confident that current enforcement methods are actually working.
The research found that mobile devices restrictions vary by company. Specifically, 45 percent of the businesses surveyed prohibit the use of mobile devices, except when using a hands-free attachment, while 41 percent prohibit their use altogether, with no exceptions. In addition, 12 percent of businesses have policies prohibiting texting, emailing and browsing.
Overall, more than 85 percent of employers have taken some steps to enforce distracted driving policies. Yet despite that, only 32 percent of businesses are "very confident" their current methods are effective.
In a move designed to better enforce compliance, more than 20 percent of the businesses surveyed plan to evaluate device-based software, device analytics or in-vehicle cameras within the next 12 months.
"The year-over-year results of our survey show that fleet operators continue to recognize the serious risks associated with employee use of mobile phones while driving," said Aegis Mobility CEO Paul Zimmerman.
A study last year by the National Safety Council found just how devastating distracted driving by employees could be to a business. That research estimated that on-the-job accidents cost employers more than $24,500 per property damage crash, with the cost rising to $150,000 per injury and to as much as $3.6 million per fatality.
Already struggling to curb smartphone use, numerous employers are now dealing with the added strain of employers using tablets while on the road. More than a quarter of the businesses surveyed equip employee drivers with some form of tablet computer, with another 8 percent planning to start using them over the next year.
The study was based on surveys of 547 fleet safety and risk management professionals.