Towards the end of last month the U.S. Department of Transportation finally made official what drivers had expected, they banned hand-held cell phone use by drivers of buses and large trucks. USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood made the announcement. Many felt it was only a matter of time before this loophole was closed for interstate commerce operators, but this announcement makes the decree official. The final rule prohibits commercial drivers from using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a commercial truck or bus. Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses. In addition, the companies whose drivers break this rule can face fines of up to $11,000. Such steep penalties are sure to make management help the government enforce the rule. Furthermore, this new decree counts as a serious traffic offense, which upon getting a second causes a commercial driver’s license to be suspended.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) studies have shown just how dangerous using a hand-held phone in the truck’s cabin can be. Studies show drivers triple the risk of an accident by not using a hands free cell phone.
This move was largely expected to occur as in September of 2010 FMCSA had placed a ban on any and all text messaging, and in 2011 PHMSA banned text messaging for hazardous waste truckers as well. All in all these regulations are not unwelcomed by the trucking industry. 5,474 people were killed in distracted driver accidents, leaving another half a million injured. You can see in an earlier post on this blog more solutions to handless communication devices in trucks and buses. For any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.