The past several years have seen some of the sharpest increases in traffic crashes in decades. Based on the most recent data available from 2015, the number of large trucks or buses involved in fatal accidents rose 8 percent. Research also shows that a bulk of commercial crashes, nearly 40%, are caused by distracted driving. Along with this rise in negligent crashes has come harsher fines and penalties for distracted driving, and an increase in commercial settlements and court-awarded judgments. It’s clear that distracted driving presents a safety liability to company employees. It also creates an even bigger liability to the company balance sheet. These 7-digit court cases illustrate just how high the costs of distracted driving can be and why it’s so important to eliminate the business problem of distracted driving.
The Financial Case for Eliminating Distracted Driving
Company Car + Personal Time = $7.5 million
On a clear day in October 2007, Thomas Hoskins left his home in Lancaster County, SC for a cycling run. It would be the last day his family saw him alive. That same day, Sharon King was driving along the empty roadway in her company car and was on the phone with a friend. A short while later, that friend heard the impact of a crash. Sharon King had veered off the road, killing Hoskins and another cyclist, Lee Anne Barry. The case was settled in 2010, with King’s employer’s insurance company paying out nearly $5 million to Hoskin’s family and $2.5 million to Barry’s family. Though she was driving the car on personal time, King was found negligent and her company’s insurance liable for damages. King later pleaded guilty to criminal charges of reckless driving.
Company Car + Company Call = $22 million
Coca-Cola employee, Araceli Cabral was driving down the road in Texas taking a company call from her company car when she struck another driver in an intersection. Perhaps it’s the significant financial loss from the judgment or the exposure to the company brand involved in the case, but it’s still one most famous and costliest commercial distracted judgments on record. Coca-cola states that Cabral was obeying company policy and Texas state law, but the court disagreed. Coca-cola continued to mount up legal fees appealing the case.
Company Car + Company Time = $18 million and company closure
Jeffrey Knight, a Holmes Transport and Logistics employee, was driving down the highway in St. Louis, MO in 2008 when he allegedly went to grab his company phone. It was a few seconds later that he hit Mark Tiburzi, giving him a traumatic brain injury. Knight injured 14 other people and killed three people. The jury awarded Tiburzi and his wife $18 million; the financial loss and financial impact of the case ultimately caused Holmes Transport to fold later that year.
The financial losses of distracted driving can go far beyond vehicle repair and employee rehabilitation. So it’s important to understand the total financial impact and exposure to your company. This way you can place a value on solving the business problem of distracted driving.