Trend: Firms Ban Use of Hand-Held Phones in Vehicles

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed against a Washington, D.C. law firm after one of the firm's lawyers hit and killed a pedestrian while driving and talking on a cell phone.

A broker for Salomon Smith Barney ran a red light and killed a motorcyclist while trying to retrieve a dropped cell phone. The firm settled a lawsuit related to the matter for $500,000.

"The recent lawsuit focused our attention," said David Fuss, partner at Washington, D.C. law firm Wilkes Artis. "Our policy is that personnel are not to conduct business while using cell phones, unless they pull over and stop or use a handsfree device."

Companies can be held liable if their employees are found acting in a negligent fashion while conducting company business. As handheld cell phone-related accidents become more common, businesses are scrambling to set policies for employees conducting business while on the road.

New York became the first state to ban the use of handheld telephones by drivers, and similar legislation is pending in 42 other states.

Has your firm taken any measures to protect itself by setting guidelines for employees using telephones while driving?

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