Texting While Driving

Texting While Driving

By attorney George Nicholas

There are a of couple things businesses should know about Virginia’s recently beefed-up ban on texting while driving. First, businesses should understand the scope of the ban. The statute applies to sending and reading texts or e-mail messages. But the ban does not apply to reading a name or number stored in a device, to reading caller ID information displayed on a device, or to using a GPS system. The first two of these exceptions make it clear that phone-users may read phone numbers in connection with sending or receiving phone calls. Another exception is key: the ban does not apply when the texter is “lawfully parked or stopped.”

Second, businesses should understand that if a violator is involved in an accident at the time he is texting, then evidence of the texting may be used as evidence of negligence. Also, violation of the anti-texting statute may be all that is needed to establish negligence against the employee and against the business.

What should Virginia businesses do to reduce the potential fallout from employees who text while driving? Here are four steps to consider.

  1. Educate employees about the law and the dangers of new law was on the books) and that the fines are $125 (first offense) and $250. Explain also that when they are driving, employees should devote their attention to driving and not to text messaging. Finally, explain that when it makes business sense to send a text message, they should pull off the road to compose and send the message.
  2. Make it clear that if an employee is convicted of texting while driving while traveling for business, then the employee will be liable for the fine.
  3. Establish a no-texting-while-driving policy.
  4. Enforce the policy. This step is critical.
  5. Enforce the policy. This step is critical. Having a policy that is not enforced is worse than having no policy.

These articles are meant to bring awareness to these topics and are not intended to be used as legal advice.

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