The National Safety Council is focusing its efforts on reminding employers that they are often held liable when employees are involved in vehicle crashes while on duty, especially if they are on the phone with their boss at the time.

A new white paper released by the NSC, “Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies,” was released this week. It details the why and how of protecting employees even when they are in their car, but especially when they are in their cars on duty.

According to a press release from the NSC:

“Business leaders owe it to their employees to put safety first – especially when employees are on the roads,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO. “Employers should know a policy that prohibits handheld and hands-free cell phone use by all employees while driving is not only a best safety practice but also contributes to the bottom line.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimate on-the-job crashes cost employers more than $24,500 per property damage crash. The cost rises to $150,000 per injury and to as much as $3.6 million per fatality.

Also this week, the NSC updated their existing white paper, “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why driving while using hands-free devices is risky behavior” which focuses on helping employers understand the dangers of cell phone distracted driving, the need for cell phone policies and what a comprehensive cell phone policy should include.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been asking all states to emphasize the dangers of distracted driving and enact laws meant to curb the use of handheld devices by drivers. So far only 36 states have comprehensive bans on the use of these devices by drivers, and in states without a ban, the problem is expected to continue.

For employers, whether or not there is a state ban, they need to focus on employee safety regardless.