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Regulations for Truck Drivers Regarding Texting and Use of Mobile Phones
Texting and Mobile Phone Restrictions for Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Drivers – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations regarding Distracted Driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published rules that specifically prohibit interstate truck and bus drivers and drivers from texting or using hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles. These rules are promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation in an effort to reduce distracted driving. Violations of these rules can result in fines and disqualifications from driving and will impact a motor carriers’ and driver’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) results.
No texting while driving
Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (which includes 18 wheelers and tractor trailers) are prohibited from texting while driving.
“Texting” is manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device, including but not limited to short text messages, e-mails, instant messaging, commands or requests to access a Web page, or pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile phone.
It essentially prohibits all typing or texting of any and all types messages while driving.
Mobile phone usage is also restricted for all drivers of commercial vehicles.
This ruling restricts a driver of a commercial motor vehicle from reaching for or holding a mobile phone to dial any type of button and also to conduct any type of voice communication.
However, this does not prevent a commercial motor vehicle driver from using a hands-free mobile phone while driving if the phone is located within close proximity. The rule prohibits unsafely reaching for a device, holding a mobile phone, or pressing multiple buttons.
How can drivers use a mobile phone and still obey the rules?
They should place the mobile phone so it is operable by the driver while restrained by properly adjusted safety belts.
Utilize an earpiece or the speaker phone function.
Use voice-activated or one-button touch features to initiate, answer, or terminate a call.
What happens if a driver is caught using a hand-held phone or texting while driving?
The rules impose possible sanctions for driver offenses, including civil penalties up to $2,750. Furthermore, disqualification from driving can occur for multiple offenses.
Motor carriers are prohibited from requiring or allowing their drivers to text or use a hand-held mobile phone while driving and may be subject to civil penalties up to $11,000. Violations can impact SMS results.
What are the risks?
Recent research shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who text while driving than for those who do not.
Texting drivers took their eyes off the road on average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this equates to a driver traveling the approximate length of a football field without looking at the roadway. For CMV drivers who dial a mobile phone while driving, the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are six times greater than for those who do not.
If you have been involved in an accident with a truck driver who caused the accident through the carelessness of any kind, you owe it to yourself to contact an attorney as soon as you are physically able.
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