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Study looks at distracted drivers among workers

Mobile workers, or workers who drive as part of their jobs, may often operate what is known as “gray fleets.” This is the word for vehicles driven by employees for work-related reasons that do not belong the company. It is likely that gray fleet mobile workers in New York drive more than the average person. A study by the company Motus found that mobile workers drive 49 percent more than other workers.

More driving can also mean more distracted driving, and by the estimate of Motus, that adds up to about 1,200 miles of distracted driving per mobile worker per year. Distraction in the form of changing music, eating, navigating and making phone calls are longtime problems with drivers, but studies have shown a correlation between a rise in smartphone use and total accidents. As smartphone used spiked between 2014 and 2016, so did motor vehicle accidents that involved a fatality, injury or property damage. From 2013 to 2017, ownership of smartphones grew from 55 to 77 percent. Along with this, accidents went up 12 percent to 6.4 million from 5.7 million.

These accidents are costly to employers in property damage, medical costs, lost days of work, lost productivity and legal fees. This estimated total annual cost for each gray fleet mobile worker is more than $4,000.

When motor vehicle accidents are caused by someone who is on the job at the time, the driver’s employer might be responsible for paying for the medical and other costs of injured people. However, in some cases, injured people may struggle to collect compensation for various reasons. For example, some types of injuries, such as whiplash or traumatic brain injury, may not present immediate symptoms. People who are in a car accident might want to consult an attorney to discuss how to document the accident and get the needed compensation.

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