A new federal regulation issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places restrictions on drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The regulations state that drivers of CMVs, such as commercial truck drivers, cannot hold a mobile device to make a call or dial by pressing more than one button. A hands-free phone is permitted while driving as long as it is placed close enough to the driver that he or she does not have to reach for the phone while driving with a seat belt fastened.
The regulations are being implemented after research conducted by the FMCSA showed that CMV drivers dialing a mobile phone were 6 times more likely to be involved in an accident or engage in risky driving behavior. Drivers who looked down to dial on their mobile phones took their eyes off the road for an average of 3.8 seconds. The FMCSA calculated that at 55 mph, this equated to the driver traveling the length of a football field without looking at the roadway.
Commercial drivers who violate these new rules face significant penalties including fines of up to $2,750 for a driver and up to $11,000 for employers who either require or allow drivers to use mobile phones while driving. Multiple violations of the hand-held device ban can result in driver disqualification by FMCSA. In addition, if the commercial driver violates the law multiple times in states with hand-held device laws, this could result in revocation of a state commercial drivers’ license.
This rule applies to all commercial drivers behind the wheel of a CMV, regardless of whether they are actively driving or are temporarily stationary because of traffic or other road delays. In order to avoid violating the new federal rules, commercial drivers should:
- Mount the mobile phone near the driver’s seat, where the driver can easily reach the phone;
- Use the speaker-phone option on the mobile phone or an earpiece;
- Use voice-activated dialing; and
- Use the hands-free feature on the phone, so long as it only requires pressing one single button to place the call.
These new federal regulations are intended to keep everyone on the highway safer. Distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal car accidents in the U.S. The attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP have significant experience litigating cases involving serious car accidents. Call us now at 888.777.1776 or visit us online to find out how we can help.