Faulted for its inadequate cell phone driving policy, Coca-Cola has been held responsible to the tune of $21 million by a Texas jury. Coca-Cola’s driving troubles began in 2010 when a 37-year-old woman was badly injured in Corpis Christi by a Coca-Cola driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the accident. Injury attorney, Thomas J. Henry, commented, “From the time I took the Coca-Cola driver’s testimony and obtained the company’s inadequate cell phone driving policy, I knew we had a corporate giant with a huge safety problem on [its] hands”. The news doesn’t say whether the call was personal or work related, and presumably from the standpoint of litigation, that’s irrelevant.
“We have accepted responsibility for the accident. We understand that this verdict is a response to a plea from plaintiff’s counsel to the jury to ban all cell phone use while driving.”
—Statement released by Coca-Cola after the verdict
Coca-Cola has two big problems: lost revenue and a damaged public reputation—its bright red trucks are as ubiquitous on the streets as the famous beverage is at meals. The broader implications mean that corporations will be racing to shore up liability risks by drafting tougher policies on company cell phone use. As it is, governments too are under pressure to legislate against driver cell phone and texting.
But where does this leave fleet managers who need real-time communication with their drivers during the working day? There are an estimated 1.2 million trucking companies in the U.S.—the majority of companies with 20 or fewer trucks. In Canada, over 227,000 Canadian truck drivers make trucking one of the top occupations in that country. With so many trucking companies and drivers, how can any kind of safety policy really be effective? A substantive shift is needed in which cell phones no longer play any part in fleet communications.
To enhance corporate no-cell-phone policies and government regulations, a fleet manager stands the best chance of maintaining a good safety record—and staying out of court—with an in-cab solution such as our Quadrant mobile data terminal (MDT). The MDT includes a touch screen display with a smart on-screen keypad for easy navigation, and the added benefit of restricting usage while the vehicle is in motion.
While preventing distracted driving is more important to service fleets, this solution—also known as EOBR (electronic onboard recorder)—is perfect for long-haul operators as it supports regulatory compliance requirements such as HOS (Hours of Serve). With a Quadrant EOBR solution, you get a handle on fatigued driving as well as distracted driving.
Such dedicated solutions also transmit a wealth of data—from driving behavior to CO2 emissions and to job completion. These data can be used strategically by company decision makers to improve company-wide operations. While vehicle data gathered electronically has been admitted in court to dispute false liability claims after the fact, the most important reason to considering a telematics solution is to ensure driver and public safety by preventing unnecessary and costly accidents in the first place.