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Danger Ahead

Entrepreneurs, don't let employees call and drive.

Love all that productivity from employees who make work calls on the road? Don't get used to it--more communities and states are passing laws prohibiting the use of handheld or all cell phones while driving, and with good reason. A study released in April 2006 by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that nearly 80 percent of car crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involved driver inattention, the most common of which was cell phone use. Several studies have found that people who use cell phones while driving are more likely to get into serious crashes causing personal injury.

If a phone-happy worker makes calls on company business and has an accident, your company could be liable. In December 2004, Georgia company Beers Skanska Inc. settled a case involving an employee conducting business on a cell phone for $5 million to avoid a jury verdict that could have been much higher.

In short: Tell your employees to pull over if they need to use the phone.

Jane Easter Bahls is a writer in Rock Island, Illinois, specializing in business and legal topics.

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This article was originally published in the May 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Danger Ahead.

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