Cell Phone Rule Officially in Effect
The final cell phone rule officially went into effect this week. Interstate truck and bus drivers are now officially prohibited from using handheld cell phones while driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) started the process of banning cell phone use for truckers in September 2010. They issued a ban on text messaging while operating a commercial truck or bus.
Here are the key changes that will take place in result of the new rule:
- The final joint rule is projected to affect about 4 million commercial drivers.
- First time violators face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750.
- Repeat offenders face disqualification from operating a CMV.
- If an interstate truck or bus driver is caught two or more times for using his or her phone while operating a CMV, states will suspend the driver’s commercial license.
- Companies that allow their drivers to use cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
The main reason for this ban is safety. Drivers who so much as reach for a cell phone or any other distraction are 3 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers who are on the phone are 6 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". Hands-free devices can be wired or wireless headsets or speaker-phone functions built into audio system and operated with steering-wheel controls.