IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - Winter 2014 - 71

the benefits of mobile technology. In
today's knowledge-based workplace,
conversations between workers,
through mobile phone use, may be
the most important form of communication that adds value to organizations. An example of this added value
can be understood through the role of
salesperson. They often spend a large
portion of their day on the road calling
on clients. If they are not answering a
call while driving, this can potentially
lead to lost revenues. In risk retention
an employer decides to accept the risk
by allowing (explicitly or implicitly)
its workers to use cell phones while
driving.
In fact, in 2009, the National
Safety Council found that 34.6%
out of 2004 companies responding
to the survey permitted hands-free
devices, while 42% of the companies responding had no rules
on distracted driving [22]. Many
employers take the route of risk
retention by not having a policy
that expressly forbids cell phone
use while driving. However, it is
unlikely that an employer would
assume the risk of employees'
using cell phone, as described in
the Risk Transfer section.

Recognizing Risks of Cell
Phone Use While Driving
In conclusion, organizations are
strongly encouraged to consider the
first three treatments as a strategy
to reduce litigation: risk avoidance,
risk transfer, and risk reduction.
However, as noted, there are limitations and drawbacks to the three
treatments. Once an organization
decides which risk treatment(s)
to adopt, it should codify such
treatment(s) in a formal policy and
ask its employees to sign the policy.
The policy should be consistent with
the risk management approaches
that the organization adopts.
Having a formal policy does not
shield an organization from being
sued by a party who was injured by
the employee using a cell phone for
business while driving. However,
the existence and enforcement of

a policy can mitigate the risk of
a lawsuit made by an employee
injured in an accident. It is conceivable, and indeed likely, that if
an employer knows about the risks
of using cell phones while driving
but does not mitigate such a risk for
its employees (through the enforcement of a policy), an employee
injured under that circumstance
could claim that the employer did

organizations to recognize the risk
of cell phone use by its workforce
while driving. It adopts a risk management framework to propose a
set of risk treatments for employers. As the popularity of other
telematic and wearable computing
devices such as Google Glass [26]
increases, the issue of distraction by
in-car electronic devices will likely
receive more attention in the future.

Once an organization decides
which risk treatments to adopt,
it should codify such treatments
in a formal policy.
not maintain a safe and healthy
work environment. The National
Safety Council has proposed a
sample policy: "Employees are not
permitted to use a cell phone, either
handheld or hands-free, while operating a motor vehicle on company
business and/or on company time"
[18]. Other suggestions include "an
absolute policy banning cell phone
use, texting, and emailing while
driving" [20, p. 19].
Indeed, for organizations, government rules on the subject are
less of a concern than lawsuits. A
single lawsuit, with the potential
of serious adverse publicity, is far
more damaging to an organization
than government regulations on the
subject. However, once the government enacts regulations, an organization that knowingly tolerates
a violation of those regulations by
its employees may find itself on the
receiving end of a very expensive
civil lawsuit. In the worst possible
situation, criminal prosecution of
the company and/or its officers
may also be a concern. With the
consideration of taking positions,
adopting treatments, or formulating
policies, each organization should
perform its own risk-assessment
exercise and consult legal consul.
This article reviews the latest
research in this area and calls on

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

|

WINTER 2014

Author Information
S. Yang is a Professor in the Department of Information Systems and
Decision Sciences, Mihaylo College of Business and Economics,
California State University, Fullerton, 800 North State College
Blvd. Fullerton, CA 92834. Email:
syang@fullerton.edu.
R. Parry, Esq., is a Professor in
the Department of Management,
Mihaylo College of Business and
Economics, California State University, Fullerton, 800 North State
College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92834.
Email: rparry@fullerton.edu.

References

[1] A. Backer-Gr√łndahl and F. Sagberg, "Driving and telephoning: Relative accident risk when
using hand-held and hands-free mobile phones,"
Safety Science, vol. 49, pp. 324-330, 2011.
[2] I.D. Brown, A.H. Tickner, and D.C.V. Simmonds, "Interference between concurrent tasks
of driving and telephoning," J. Applied Psychology, vol. 53, no. 5, pp. 419-424, 1969.
[3] C. Collet, A. Guillot, and C. Petit, "Phoning
while driving I: A review of epidemiological,
psychological, behavioural and physiological
studies," Ergonomics, vol. 53, no. 5, pp. 589-
601, 2010.
[4] CTIA-The Wireless Association, "Annual
wireless industry survey," Dec., 2013; http://
www.ctia.org/your-wireless-life/how-wirelessworks/annual-wireless-industry-survey.
[5] F.A. Drews, M. Pasupathi, and D.L. Strayer, "Passenger and cell-phone conversations in
simulated driving," J. Experimental Psychology: Applied, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 392-400, 2008.
[6] C.S. Dula, B.A. Martin, R.T. Fox, and R.L.
Leonard, "Differing types of cellular phone

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