You are driving in heavy traffic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area when your phone rings. Let it go to voicemail, right?
But a glance at the device tells you that work is calling. You risk angering your boss if you don’t answer. What do you do?
The shocking statistics
A recent survey commissioned by insurance giant Travelers found about half of people ages 18 to 44 years old admitted that they answered or made work-related calls or texts while driving. Among employees between 45 and 64 years old, about a third said they engaged in the same behavior.
It’s a serious problem because distracted driving contributed to 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That amounts to 10 percent of motor vehicle accident deaths and 16 percent of the injuries for the year.
“Distracted driving is a contributing factor and it’s a problem that won’t go away without understanding its causes and promoting behavioral changes,” said Joan Woodward, president of the Travelers Institute, the insurance company’s public policy arm. “Whether drivers are texting, eating or talking on the phone – taking their eyes off the road for even one second can cause a potentially life-changing crash.”
In response, the institute launched a public awareness campaign, further noting that its survey found a quarter of employees said their bosses called or texted them even when they were known to be driving. The insurer believes employers should have formal, written policies about distracted driving that are communicated to employees on a regular basis.
You can wait to answer
You could be the innocent victim of a crash caused by another driver who is talking to or texting their boss. Or maybe your boss called or texted you, in violation of company policy and common sense, and you were too worried about your job security not to answer or reply.
In either case, you are now concerned with bigger realities – a damaged or destroyed vehicle, injuries that may require extensive therapy, repair and medical bills, and perhaps unemployment (this is when you learn “human resources” is more interested in protecting your company’s interests than your own). At the same time, an insurance company is pressuring you into a settlement that you know is not in your best interests but is nonetheless tempting because you need the money.
You need an advocate who is going to protect your rights. Experienced personal injury lawyer Coby L. Wooten, a Fort Worth native, has handled many cases just like yours. He knows how to deal with the big insurance companies while you focus on putting your life back together.