Cell Phone Restrictions
Ruling bans hand-held cell phone use by drivers of buses and large trucks.
A recently adopted federal ruling affects a wide range of commercial drivers and how they use hand-held cell phones while on the job.
What It Means To You
The U.S. Department of Transportation enacted the final rule FMCSA-2010-0096, which prohibits interstate truck and bus drivers from using handheld cellphones while operating their vehicles. This is a joint rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). This rule went into effect January 3, 2012.
Who it Affects
This rule affects tow truck drivers, tractor trailer drivers, bus drivers, and anyone who is a commercial driver and/or operates commercial vehicles, which totals roughly four million commercial drivers nationwide.
Interstate truck drivers (including tow truck drivers) and bus drivers who are caught in violation of this rule will face up to a $2,750 fine for each offense and can also lose their commercial driver’s license (CDL) for multiple offenses. Owners are no longer permitted to require or allow their drivers to use handheld mobile phones. Owners who require or allow drivers to use their handheld cellphones will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
Rationale for the Law
Studies have shown the use of a hand-held cell phone is more distracting than eating or reaching to adjust an instrument. Distracted-related driving accidents killed nearly 5,474 people and caused half a million injuries in 2009. This represented 16% of overall traffic fatalities in 2009. According to distraction.gov, the number of people killed in distraction-affected accidents in 2012 was 3,328. Distracted related driving continues to be a leading cause of car accidents nationally.