More businesses are considering banning their employees from talking on cell phones while driving, in order to protect themselves from lawsuits if an employee hits someone while making a business call, according to Lawyers Weekly USA
, a national newspaper for small law firms.A law firm is currently being sued in Virginia for $30 million because a lawyer talking on a cell phone struck and killed a teenager walking along a road, the legal newspaper reports."More companies are telling their employees to not talk on the phone and drive," said Tom Harrison, publisher of Lawyers Weekly USA
. "As the number of mobile phones goes up, so are the accidents, and businesses could really become targets for their employees' actions while talking and driving. Recent statistics and studies show people using a cell phone are a danger behind the wheel because their focus is not totally on driving. If an innocent person gets hurt and a cell phone user is driving, a jury could reach out and wring the employee's company financially."More than 90 percent of Americans consider cell phones dangerous while driving, and 69 percent favor banning them in the car, according to statistics in the Lawyers Weekly USA
article, which was published in the newspaper's Aug. 20-27 edition and on its Web site, www.lawyersweeklyusa.com
.New York recently became the first state to ban handheld cell phones while driving. At least 44 other states and a number of municipalities are considering similar bans, according to the legal newspaper."There's a stereotype of hotshot lawyers and executives blabbing on their cell phones and not caring about other people," Harrison said. "That's the kind of thing that could make a jury really angry. Increasingly, law firms and other businesses are getting scared of this and telling their employees to be more careful."