Hand-held Phone Ban Reminder

Hand-held Phone Ban Reminder

On January 1, 2014, Illinois became the 12th state to prohibit drivers from using hand-held phones.  Texting and driving in Illinois is also illegal. Drivers of any age caught doing so can receive citations and fines.

Drivers are prohibited from even holding a phone and pressing more than one button to dial a phone number. With the exception of two-way mobile radio and emergency calls, the law effectively limits legal car phone usage to speaker phone, speed-dialing and Bluetooth devices. Violators caught on their cell phones behind the wheel can face a minimum fine of $75. Subsequent violations incur steeper fines.

I am amazed by the number of Illinois drivers who are unaware or simply ignore the distracted driving laws as they sit at green lights or drive erratically while texting or talking on the phone.   

There is no excuse for this type of distracted driving. It is extremely dangerous. Studies show that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in personal injury crashes than other drivers. Most crashes are caused by driver inattention, with cell phone use being the top distraction. 

The responsibility to drive safely is with the person behind the wheel and hopefully, every licensed Illinois real estate broker uses some type of hands free device while driving.  

In addition, an Illinois sponsoring real estate broker should have written company policy that addresses the area of distracted driving.  

 In Illinois, a violation of state law by an employee can essentially make the employer liable for the employee's conduct. An example of this could be: an employee getting involved in an automobile accident while driving a company or personal vehicle on company business. Both the employee and his/her employer could be held responsible due to the existence of the new cell phone ban.  

Even though the real estate broker is typically an independent contractor, the sponsoring broker could possibly have some liability for the actions of the sponsored licensee.

What are some steps that a business can take to minimize its vicarious liability under the above scenario? One potential step is to update company policy manuals to reflect that sponsored licensees are required to adhere to the new law. Announce all updates immediately.

While having such a policy does not bar sponsoring broker liability, having a strongly worded policy could help mitigate the risk of any liability.  It is also a great opportunity to train licensees about the dangers of “distracted driving”.

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