Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, December 11, 2006

BlackBerry and Driving - An Employer's Problem?

It was at least for one employer (and no doubt it's insurer)according to the Chicago Sun Times story, $4 mil. award in BlackBerry car accident. According to the story lead:

A 71-year-old Arlington Heights woman will get $4.1 million because a van driver last year ran a red light and crashed into her while he was looking down at his BlackBerry, attorneys said Friday.

Ironically, the employee was looking not at a text message, but using the BlackBerry as a navigational device because he was lost. Common sense tells us that multi-tasking (which according to some is a misnomer*), when one of the tasks is driving is a potential problem. Since the other task is often some sort of communication associated with their job — it becomes another problem for employers.

*The ubiquity, pervasiveness and mobility of new technologies encourage a simultaneity of activities that goes beyond anything our culture has heretofore ever known. Indeed, the ability to engage in multiple tasks concurrently seems to be the very essence or core motivation for the development of such technologies.Yet there is a long tradition of psychological and media communication research that indicates that our ability to engage in simultaneous task is, at best, limited (Fisch, 2000; Lang, 2000), and at worst, virtually impossible (James, 1890; Woodsworth, 1921; Broadbent, 1958). The Laptop and the Lecture:The Effects of Multitasking in Learning Environments, Journal of Computing in Higher Education.


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