Avoid Lawsuits When Laying Off Workers

With the U.S. economy in recession, companies are trying to make up for declining sales by reducing expenses. Workforce reductions, though they may improve short-run profits, may also cause long-term problems if the firm does not handle them with care. Angry former employees may look for justification for legal action. The employees who remain will take on extra work with no additional compensation, while they deal emotionally with the loss of colleagues and fear that the job cutting will eventually hit them. Consequently, companies must approach layoffs with caution.

The company must first determine whether a layoff is the best option. While it may quickly reduce costs, it may also cause the company to dismiss valuable workers. This will hurt long-term productivity, lower the morale of the survivors, and wipe out valuable institutional knowledge. There is also a risk that a layoff will unfairly affect older or minority workers, which could lead to discrimination complaints. Therefore, the company should look at alternatives such as hiring and wage freezes, adjustments to employee benefits, not replacing workers who leave or retire, and job sharing.

If the company decides that it must reduce its workforce, several careful steps are required;

 

  • Establish a specific goal for the layoff to achieve, such as a dollar amount of savings or number of positions.
  • Identify those job functions and skills that it will need to operate successfully after the layoff.
  • Set a timetable so that the reduction has a clear end.
  • Comply with federal and state labor laws.
  • Determine which jobs are unnecessary and eliminate them.

When determining which employees to dismiss, the company may legally use criteria such as length of service with the company, the necessity of a certain job classification, employee status (i.e., part-time or temporary), or employees’ performance records. Management should review candidates for dismissal to ensure that the cutback does not disproportionately impact classes of employees protected by law. If managers can find no other compelling business reason for terminating those employees, they must seek out alternatives.

Once managers have made selections and the decision to proceed, they must inform the affected workers in a professional manner. They should be able to clearly explain the reasons for the action; workers’ entitlement to benefits such as severance, health coverage, and others; and post-employment services available to the workers, such as outplacement. The workers may express emotions ranging from stunned silence to rage; the managers must be prepared to deal with their reactions in a businesslike manner. Remaining employees will have concerns about their own futures and the firm’s outlook. Management should, to the extent possible, explain the reasons for the layoff, the likelihood of additional job cuts, and the business goals the firm seeks to achieve through the layoffs.

The company must take particular care when the layoff involves older employees. Severance packages usually require the employee to waive his right to press a claim under federal law. However, regulations impose procedural requirements that an employer must meet before a court will consider the waivers valid. Companies must take special care to meet those requirements.

Shrinking a company is an unpleasant prospect that no manager relishes. Employee lawsuits may well result from a workforce reduction. However, if the firm handles the action with care and sensitivity, it can make such claims less likely and will be in a better position to defend itself against claims that do arise.

Does Your Homeowner’s Insurance Cover a Stolen Cell Phone?

You just realized your cell phone has been stolen. Not only are you out the cost of the phone, but more than likely, the thief is placing hundreds of dollars of charges on your phone bill right now.

As people increasingly rely on cell phones, this type of loss is becoming more common. In fact, a recent Better Business Bureau report indicated that an estimated 600,000 cell phones will either be lost or stolen this year. Unfortunately, a homeowner’s policy probably won’t be of much help in protecting you in this unfortunate event. Here’s why.

The most popular homeowner’s policy, the HO-3, provides the broadest coverage. It insures you for direct physical loss to all personal property described in Coverage C, as long as the loss was caused by a covered peril and not specifically excluded. The theft of the phone is considered a direct physical loss of property, but not the thief’s subsequent use of the phone. Unlike charges made on a stolen credit card, which have limited homeowner’s insurance coverage via a separate “Additional Coverage” grant, there is no such grant for unauthorized cell phone charges.

Here’s how to protect yourself from cell phone theft and fraudulent charges:

                    Keep as close watch on your cell phone as you would your wallet or purse. Be mindful of where your phone is at all times and be careful about who you lend it to.

                    Password-protect your phone. Read the user guide that came with your phone to find out how to “lock” your phone or enable the “password” feature to prevent a thief from making unauthorized calls.

                    Call your cell phone provider as soon as you realize your phone is missing. Be sure to keep detailed records, including the date and time you called your carrier, the name and ID number of the representative to whom you spoke, and what instructions you were given.

                    File a police report. This is an official record of the theft and your carrier may require you to provide a police report number when you report your missing phone.

                    Ask your carrier to open an investigation. If your phone company isn’t working to resolve the situation, request an investigation. This should stop collections agencies from taking action, as well as delay the reporting of non-payment of charges to credit bureaus.

                    Contact the Federal Communication Commission. The agency will forward your complaint to your service provider and mandate that they respond within 30 days. You can log on to http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html to file a report.

                    Contact your state attorney general’s office. They handle complaints about cell phone fraud, in addition to disputes about contracts. Find your state attorney general by logging on to http://www.naag.org/ag/full_ag_table.php.

                    Contact your state’s public utility commission. You can find your state’s commission by logging on to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners web site at http://www.naruc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=15.

Attitude Adjustment: Change Employee Behavior to Reduce Injuries

Despite common belief, the majority of workplace injuries are not caused by unsafe conditions, but rather employee behavior. These “misbehaving” workers often overestimate their physical limits and make unsafe choices—such as lifting a 300-pound piece of equipment without assistance.

When DuPont conducted a study of all its workplace accidents over a 10-year period, they discovered that 96% of the incidents resulted from employees working beyond their limits. A 2006 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Study showed that more than 50% of all workplace injuries were a result of overexertion, falls, twisting the wrong way and other such “behavioral” accidents. These injuries led to an estimated $46 billion in annual worker’s compensation costs.

The OSHA factor

Considering these eye-opening statistics, it’s obvious that workers need an on-the-job attitude adjustment. Some believe the industry should turn to The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to reverse this disturbing trend. Unfortunately, OSHA may not be the solution.

Although the organization has acted as the watchdog for workplace safety for the past 30 years, OSHA generally focuses on making the workplace safer as opposed to changing employee behavior. After all, it’s a lot easier to modify a facility or repair a piece of machinery than it is to change the way a worker thinks and acts. Plus, many employers are wary of opening their doors to OSHA in fear that the organization will become overly involved in their every day affairs.

Taking charge

Because OSHA doesn’t seem to be the answer, it looks like employers are on their own when it comes to changing employee behavior. That means business owners must take the initiative to educate employees and cut down on preventable workplace injuries.

Here are a few steps employers can take to cut back on “behavioral” accidents:

  • Appraise the situation: Take a closer look at past employee injuries that have occurred in your workplace. If you notice any patterns or trends, it’s time to make significant changes in that area. For example, if most injuries occurred when employees were attempting to carry heavy boxes, focus on teaching workers to safely move boxes with the assistance of another worker or a forklift.
  • Get supervisors on board: Ensure that your front line supervisors make injury prevention a top priority. Not only should they constantly enforce safety guidelines, but they also need to raise awareness throughout the ranks.
  • Work as a team: Workplace injury prevention requires plenty of teamwork. Make sure that all your employees understand the importance of working together and keeping an eye out for their fellow workers.
  • Create incentive programs: Consider offering your workers special rewards for sustaining a safe workplace. For example, let workers know that if there are no injuries within a 6- or 12-month period, they’ll be rewarded with a party, gift certificates or even an extra vacation day. This will give them greater incentive to make safe choices on a daily basis.
  • Hire the right people: Try to employ safety-conscious, reliable workers who are genuinely concerned with injury prevention.
  • Train your workers: Without the proper education and training, workers cannot be expected to perform their jobs safely. Ensure that all your employees are well-trained in safety guidelines and offer refresher courses each year.

Changing human behavior is no easy task. It will take loads of time and hard work to change your employees’ ways, but it will be well worth the effort in the long run. If you can successfully adjust your workers’ attitudes, you’ll enjoy lower insurance premiums, more productive workers and fewer injury-related absences.

You may even be eligible for inclusion in OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). This program recognizes small businesses with an exemplary safety and health management system. If you receive this prominent recognition, your worksite will be exempt from programmed inspections as long as your SHARP certification is valid.

Minimize the Likelihood of a Homeowner’s Insurance Non-Renewal or Rate Increase

Almost three million households have lost their homeowner’s insurance since 2003 according to a 2007 national telephone survey conducted on behalf of Trusted Choice and The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.  Two-thirds of the households that lost coverage were located in the South. Only half of the non-renewed households said they were able to find other coverage.

As part of the current study, respondents were asked about changes they’ve made since 2003 to secure their home in the event of a natural disaster. Overall, a mere 28 percent of households indicated they have taken steps to secure their homes. Even in the South, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual occurrence, only 31 percent indicated that they had secured their homes.

The survey results also showed that about 35 percent of all American households had experienced a homeowner’s insurance rate increase in the previous 48 months. Twenty-two percent of the respondents answered that they had received anywhere from an 11 to 25 percent rate hike, while 13 percent said that they had received more than a 25 percent increase.

Trusted Choice offers the following tips to lessen the possibility of non-renewal or rate increases:

·   Monitor your claim activity – Insurance companies track how many and what type of claims you file. Frequent claim activity, no matter how small, can impact your rates and chance for renewal.

·   Stick with one insurance company – An insurance company is more inclined to look past an item on your claims record if you are a long-term customer. Changing insurance companies on a regular basis makes it difficult to build a relationship with an insurer.

·   Bundle your coverages – Keeping your homeowner’s and auto policies with one insurer makes you a more attractive customer. An insurance company may think twice about dropping your homeowner’s coverage if it may mean losing your auto insurance business, too.

·   Review your deductibles – Make sure that your deductible isn’t so small that you will be submitting every potential claim for payment, nor so large that it will cause financial hardship in the event of a loss. 

·   Home improvements help – Your home’s wiring, plumbing, heating and roofing should be in good repair at all times. At least twice a year, walk through your home and inspect it for developing problems.

·   Know a house’s claim history before you buy it – Ask for a disclosure report, which can be obtained from your real estate agent or the seller’s agent. Insurance companies will be wary of a home with previous structural or water-damage claims.

·   Consult your insurance agent – Working closely with an agent may be the easiest way to stay insured affordably.  And they will be your advocate when you have a claim or other problem. 

Curtail Workers’ Comp Costs in a Tough Economy

Workers’ compensation costs are always a concern for employers—but in today’s tough economy, employers should be more watchful than ever. As financially stressed employees grow increasingly worried about their money problems, many are preoccupied and less attentive on the job. This can greatly increase the risk of an injury. Plus, when employees become anxious about potential layoffs, workers’ compensation claims may increase as workers look for a way to maintain their income.

This is precisely why employers need to take every possible measure to rein in workers’ comp costs right now. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure employees stay happy and claims don’t mushroom out of control:

Open the lines of communication

Everywhere they turn, employees are hearing bad news about the economy. Consequently, workers are growing increasingly anxious about their job security and financial well-being. Now more than ever, it is absolutely critical for employers to keep the lines of communication open with their worried employees.

However, while it’s important to give workers the morale boost they need, it’s also important to be truthful. Don’t sugar-coat a bad situation. Studies show that employees who work for employers who are truthful, fair and supportive have lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression.

Research also shows that workers trust their immediate boss more than the company’s senior leaders. Therefore, direct supervisors should offer their employees plenty of support right now and immediately address any widespread anxiety or rumors.

Keep a close watch on claims

Although employers should always meticulously monitor claims, this becomes even more vital in a rough economy. That’s because many workers may attempt to abuse the system when they are feeling financially stressed.

As you scrutinize the amount and type of claims being filed by your employees, keep an eye out for suspicious trends or patterns. This may help you identify potential abuse. If you suspect any type of exploitation, report it immediately.

Give employees the right title

If your company has recently gone through lay offs or experienced a reduction in workforce, some workers may have changed positions or taken on additional responsibilities. If this is the case, ensure that your employees’ job classifications are up-to-date.

Encourage good health

Companies with wellness programs, fitness opportunities, nutritious food choices and other health-related perks have healthier, more productive employees. Healthy employees are less likely to suffer from illness or injury—which means they are less likely to miss work.

This is why it’s so important to adopt some sort of wellness program for your employees and establish a relationship with a qualified occupational medical provider. Find physicians who follow ACOEM (American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine). Although they may be more expensive, it’s well worth the cost. These experts will take time to understand your company’s needs and ensure your workers stay healthy, productive and on the job—which will save you untold amounts of money in the long run.

Educate your employees about finances

In our current economic downturn, many of your employees are likely struggling to manage their finances. They don’t know where to turn for financial advice and expertise.

To relieve some of their stress, consider sponsoring office workshops and classes about financial matters like reducing credit card debt, investing wisely, securing a home loan and saving for college. This will give your employees the financial guidance they need while ensuring that they stay happy and productive on the job.

 

In any economy, whether it’s up or down, one thing is always clear: every day a worker is off the job, the employer loses money. Although you may be focused on other company problems right now, such as a reduced workforce, dwindling budgets and a decrease in sales, it’s important to maintain your focus on workers’ compensation issues.

Try to cut back on illnesses and injuries with a wellness program and other health perks. If an employee is injured, do everything possible to return that worker safely to the job as quickly as possible. After all, the longer an employee is out of work, the more difficult it is to get him back to work—and the higher the price tag for the employer.

Thorough After-Flood Cleanup Minimizes Mold Growth

If you and your home are the victims of a flood, your cleanup must be thorough to ensure that mold growth is eliminated to the greatest extent possible. You should completely dry wet structures as soon as possible after the event. However, while you want to act quickly, approach the cleanup process carefully, to avoid the mishaps and accidents that can occur in the less-than-safe environment that a flooded home can be.

The following tips, courtesy of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, can help you to thoroughly clean up while protecting your own health and safety:

• Keep children and pets out of the area until you have completely cleaned it.

• Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles during cleanup.

• Discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected, including mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam rubber items, books, wall coverings and paper products.

• Discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood water.

• Clean all hard surfaces such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.

• Use fans, air conditioning units and dehumidifiers to help dry the area.

• Wash your hands with soap and water after you have finished cleaning. Use water that has been boiled for one minute and then cooled. You can also disinfect water for personal hygiene by creating a solution of household bleach mixed with water.

• Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent, separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens. Use a self-service laundry for washing large quantities of clothes and linens until your onsite wastewater system has been professionally inspected and serviced.

• Get immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.

If you need to turn off the main power and have standing water inside your home, remember to do so only when you are in a dry location. If you must enter standing water to reach the main power switch, call an electrician to turn it off. Never use an electric tool or appliance to turn off power while standing in water. Be sure the electrician checks the house’s electrical system before turning on the power.

If the house has been closed up for several days, enter only long enough to open doors and windows, and then leave them open for at least 30 minutes before you stay inside for any length of time. This allows potentially hazardous air to circulate out of the rooms, while letting fresh air inside.

As always, don’t hesitate to call a qualified professional for advice and/or help with the cleanup process.

Covered for Intellectual Property Infringement Risks?

You may not even be aware of a critical breech in your general liability coverage. But you’re not alone. Many businesses carry little to no intellectual property infringement coverage, when, in fact, they would be wise to do so.

Over the past decade or so, there has been a growing trend by many insurers to dramatically reduce coverage for advertising injury in general liability policies. In addition, newer policy forms exclude coverage for trademark and patent infringement claims altogether.

The common misconception is that this coverage applies primarily to the publishing industry. But, if your business has any involvement with media, technology, or both, you may need to conduct a risk audit to uncover exposure to potential intellectual property infringement claims.

Does your business need intellectual property insurance?

Businesses which might be exposed include:

  • Publishing companies
  • Companies which mimic a popular brand slogan or name in their own advertising
  • Companies involved in e-commerce
  • Any company which has a web presence
  • Media companies which specialize in advertising, publishing, broadcasting, photography and similar related professions 

Types of insurance 

Depending on your exposure, available coverage options include: 

  • Intellectual property insurance which is a more encompassing form of insurance to enforce your patents and also extends coverage to copyrights and trademarks.
  • Patent insurance to protect holders of patents from patent infringement losses.
  • Liability insurance for patent infringement to protect sellers, manufacturers and also users when a claim is brought against them for alleged infringement of patents.
  • Specialized media liability insurance for any company which specializes in any media format.
  • Advertising injury insurance to cover any potential claims that stem from advertising campaigns.  An advertising injury is any statement made in advertising that causes loss to another person or entity.

Types of coverage 

There are generally three types of intellectual property insurance coverage currently available which include: 

  • Legal defense only which will provide coverage for the costs of legal defense but nothing for any awarded damages.
  • Indemnity and legal defense which pays for both legal defense costs and any awarded damages.
  • Enforcement coverageto pay for any legal costs to pursue an intellectual property infringement claim against a third party.

To qualify for intellectual property insurance you may be required to show that you have performed an Intellectual Property Search or have registered for a patent, copyright, or trademark.

Intellectual property is specialized insurance coverage. Premium differences for any form of intellectual property infringement coverage vastly differ so carefully examine what each policy covers and excludes. You may need to consult with both your insurance broker and your legal counsel to limit your risk exposure.

Choose a Safe Car for Your Teenage Driver

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you may have very mixed feelings about the day your teen gets a driver’s license. On the one hand, you’re proud that your teen has reached this milestone, but on the other hand, you’re worried about reckless driving and safety issues.

You have good reason to be concerned. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control, accounting for 36% of all deaths in this age group. In 2004, 4,767 teens ages 16 to 19 died due to motor vehicle crashes, and during 2005, nearly 400,000 teens sustained nonfatal injuries serious enough to land them in the emergency room. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), per mile driven, teens are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), together with the IIHS, advises parents of teenage drivers to do more than worry. They should take a proactive role in protecting their teens. This starts with selecting a safe vehicle:

-Avoid vehicles that encourage reckless driving. Teen drivers not only lack experience…they also lack maturity. As a result, speeding and reckless driving are common. Sports cars and other vehicles with high performance features, such as turbo charging, can encourage speeding. Choosing a vehicle with a more sedate image will reduce the chances your teen will be in a speed-related crash.

-Don’t let your teen drive an unstable vehicle. Sport utility vehicles are inherently less stable than cars because of their higher centers of gravity. Abrupt steering maneuvers-the kind that can occur when teens are fooling around or over-correcting a driver error-can cause rollovers where a more stable car would, at worst, skid or spin out.

-Pick a vehicle that offers good crash protection. Teenagers should drive vehicles that offer state-of-the-art protection in case they do crash. Review the IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test results when selecting a vehicle.

-Don’t let your teen drive a small vehicle. Small vehicles offer much less protection in crashes than larger ones. However, this doesn’t mean you should put your child in the largest vehicle you can find. Many mid- and full-size cars offer more than adequate crash protection. Check out the safety ratings for cars in this group.

-Avoid older vehicles. Most of today’s cars have better-designed crash protection than cars of six to 10 years ago. For example, a newer, mid-size car with airbags would be a better choice than an older, larger car without airbags. Again, before you make a final choice on the car your teenager will drive, consult crash test results and safety ratings.

With time and experience, your teen will become a seasoned driver and move out of the highest-risk category. Incorporating these suggestions into your car selection will help him or her to get there, safely.

Understanding Waivers of Subrogation

Suppose an air conditioning contractor, while installing a system for a new industrial building, has an accident. Another contractor’s employee on the job site suffers injuries when the AC contractor’s scaffolding collapses and falls on top of him. The injured worker sues the AC contractor and the project owner. The project’s contract included a requirement that the contractor assume the owner’s liability for any accidents arising out of the contractor’s work. Consequently, the contractor’s general liability insurance company pays the injured worker for both the contractor and owner’s shares of the damages. The insurance company, however, has determined that the owner was twenty percent responsible for the accident. It files a claim with the owner demanding some of its money back.

The insurance company’s action is entirely legal. Many project owners and general contractors, wanting to avoid this situation, insist that their subcontractors agree to a waiver of subrogation.

Subrogation is a legal principle in which a person who has paid another’s expenses or debt assumes the other’s rights to recover from the person responsible for the expenses or debt. For example, if someone hits your car in a parking lot and causes significant damage, your insurance company will pay you for the damage (assuming you bought collision insurance,) then recover the amount of its payment (subrogate) from the other driver (or, more commonly, from the driver’s insurance company.) Subrogation holds ultimately responsible the person who should pay for the damage.

Owners and general contractors want to transfer their liability to subcontractors, to the extent that they can. Therefore, contracts often include a waiver of subrogation agreement. In such an agreement, the subcontractor promises not to pursue recovery from the other party. That agreement might bind the subcontractor’s insurance company, depending on the type of policy and its terms.

A standard commercial general liability policy forbids the policyholder from doing anything to impair the insurance company’s rights after the loss occurs. This implies that a waiver of subrogation agreed to before a loss binds the company. Also, the sub’s policy may protect the other party if it names him as an additional insured. Under common law, an insurance company may not subrogate against its own insured. To remove any doubt, the sub should ask the company to add an endorsement applying a waiver of subrogation to the person or organization named in it. Insurance companies vary on the amount of premium they charge for this; some make no charge at all.

The standard business auto insurance policy has language similar to the general liability policy. Unlike GL insurance, there is no standard waiver of subrogation endorsement for auto insurance. Some insurance companies may offer their own versions of such an endorsement. Again, premium charges will vary.

Workers’ compensation policies require an endorsement whenever a waiver of subrogation is desired. This endorsement may apply on a blanket basis to all parties with whom the insured has written contracts requiring waivers. Alternatively, it can apply only to the party listed on its schedule. The insurance company may charge up to two percent of the policy premium for blanket coverage or two to five percent of the project’s premium for individual coverage.

Commercial property and inland marine insurance policies vary as to whether they permit waivers of subrogation even before a loss.

In all cases, a contractor or building tenant who is required by contract to provide such a waiver should check the relevant insurance policies. Policy changes should be requested if it is unclear whether they permit pre-loss waivers. The firm should consult with an insurance agent on all insurance-related contractual matters to ensure that the proper coverage is in place.

Risky Behaviors Behind the Wheel Can Lead to Car Crashes

Drivers do the strangest things when they’re behind the wheel, but how many of those activities actually cause accidents? Dr. Sheila Klauer, a senior research associate at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and her research team examined driver behavior to find the answer to this question.

The researchers, sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, looked at the daily driving habits of more than 240 study participants in and around Washington, D.C. The drivers’ vehicles contained five digital video cameras and a “black box” that registered following distance, lateral acceleration, speed, forward acceleration, braking and other data.

After viewing videos of 82 collisions, 761 near-crashes and 8,000-plus incidents in which the study participants were involved, researchers identified four specific behaviors that increase the odds of having a crash:

·   Speeding-The researchers defined speeding as driving faster than prevailing traffic or driving at a speed “inappropriate” for conditions.

Speeding nearly tripled the crash odds.

·   Driving while drowsy-Drowsy drivers were defined as those who stare fixedly through partially closed eyes. The chief characteristic of this type of driver is lack of eye movement. Most drowsy-driving episodes occurred during broad daylight. This behavior also tripled the crash odds.

·   Becoming distracted while driving-The distractions that caused accidents required drivers to look away from the road for two seconds or more. They included such activities as applying make-up, dialing a cell phone, searching for a CD or reading behind the wheel. This kind of behavior doubled the crash odds, and the increased crash risk shows how quickly and unexpectedly traffic conditions can change. Even when the driver maintained a safe following distance, this didn’t prevent distraction-related accidents. For example, many of the rear-end crashes in the study occurred while a driver was keeping a greater-than-two-second headway behind the car in front.

·   Aggressive driving-Researchers defined aggressive driving as using a vehicle to menace another driver or pedestrian. This included behaviors such speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, running stop signs, tailgating and frequent lane changes. Oftentimes the driver exhibited a combination of these activities. Aggressive driving doubled the risk of a crash.

The researchers’ work has a number of potential applications. For example, the risky behaviors can be studied independently to determine how they contribute to crashes when associated with particular types of drivers, and videos and black-box readings can be used to develop collision-avoidance systems. But most importantly, for each and every driver on the road, this research shows just how important it is to stay alert and keep your eyes on the road at all times.