Jack Hanley, executive director of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), tells the tale of the CEO and the president of a Fortune 500 company who were having a conference call recently with their top marketing executives. One of the execs was talking on his cell phone as he walked out of an airport terminal. As the call progressed, everyone heard an alarm sound as he unlocked his car door in the airport garage. Then they heard him start his engine. "Are you driving your car?" the president asked. The marketing exec replied sheepishly that he was looking for a safe place to pull over and continue the conversation. The Donald Trump-like response, Hanley reports, was immediate: "You're fired!"
This company, which has to remain unidentified, is one of a growing number that have instituted a company-wide ban on cell-phone use by all employees who are driving vehicles, with, in this case, a zero-tolerance attitude toward enforcement. While not every company takes such a draconian stance, it is becoming increasingly clear to risk managers and corporate fleet managers that distracted driving on the job is not just hazardous to employees' health, but, with punitive damage awards reaching into the millions of dollars, poses a costly risk to companies themselves.