Final Cell Phone Rule Posted
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been in the process of banning cell phone use for truckers since September 2010. They issued a ban on text messaging while operating a commercial truck or bus. A few months later in February 2011, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) followed suit with its own ban on texting by intrastate hazardous materials drivers. The final joint rule given by the two administrations is projected to affect about four million commercial drivers.
The reprimands for violating the cell phone ban are pretty steep even for first time offenders. Violators face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a CMV for repeat offenders. If an interstate truck or bus driver is caught and ticketed two or more times for using his or her phone while operating a CMV, states will suspend the driver’s commercial license. This goes for any driver who commits two or more serious traffic violations.
The drivers are not the only ones at risk. Drivers who use their phones at the wheel put not only other drivers around them in danger, but they also put their company in danger. Companies that allow their drivers to use cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
The Reason For This Ban is Simple: Safety
Drivers who so much as reach for a cell phone or any other distraction are three times more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers who are on the phone are six times more likely to be involved in a crash. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “When drivers of large trucks, buses, and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly.”
The final hand-held cell phone ban rule can be accessed here. It will become effective 30 days from publication in the Federal Register.