Friday, December 02, 2011

Cell Phone Use Restricted In Commercial Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a final rule specifically prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicles.  

The joint rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the latest action by the U.S. Department of Transportation to end distracted driving and will take effect this month. 

Many of the largest truck and bus companies, such as UPS, Covenant Transport, Wal-Mart, Peter Pan and Greyhound already have company policies in place banning their drivers from using hand-held phones. 

"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," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel."  

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. 

Additionally, states will suspend a driver's commercial driver's license (CDL) after two or more serious traffic violations.  Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000. Approximately four million commercial drivers would be affected by this final rule.

"This final rule represents a giant leap for safety," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "It's just too dangerous for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle. Drivers must keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and head in the game when operating on our roads. Lives are at stake." 

While driver distraction studies have produced mixed results, FMCSA research shows that using a hand-held cell phone while driving requires a commercial driver to take several risky steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including searching and reaching for the phone. Commercial drivers reaching for an object, such as a cell phone, are three times more likely to be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event.  

Dialing a hand-held cell phone makes it six times more likely that commercial drivers will be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event. 

In September 2010, FMCSA issued a regulation banning text messaging while operating a commercial truck or bus and PHMSA followed with a companion regulation in February 2011, banning texting by intrastate hazardous materials drivers. 

"Needless injuries and deaths happen when people are distracted behind the wheel," said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman.  "Our final rule would improve safety and reduce risks of hazmat in transportation."

Nearly 5474 people died and half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2009. Distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research. 


  1. Anonymous11:46 AM

    Why only truck and bus driver and not ALL drivers of any vehicle???How many car accidents are caused each year by distracted car drivers???I bet a lot more than semi drivers....SO UNFAIR...

  2. Anonymous4:49 PM

    Just one more thing to blame on truckers. When there are 10 times as many cars on the roads as trucks. What's next to take our cb's away from us. As a twenty year trucker, I have seen more accidents by four wheelers ( a.k.a. cars ) then trucks.
    For twenty years I have listen to trucker talk about shutting down for a whole week to fight for our rights. Well it doesn't take the whole entire trucking industry to shut down, all it takes is for the fuel tankers to shut down and the entire world will stop.
    Without the trucks to supply the fuel, no trucks, cars,buses, planes or any other type of transportation can operate.
    So therefore no store has groceries, no gas station has fuel, no planes can fly and that includes the presidents jet...
    So just maybe one of these years the truckers will actually stand up and fight for our rights, but until then we will all just bend over and take screwing for OUR COUNTRY... you idiots enforcing these laws, need to realize that its just like the stickers you see on the back of trailers..... "WITHOUT TRUCKS AMERICA STOPS"

  3. Anonymous10:48 PM

    Yeah ! you're right. " WITHOUT TRUCKS AMERICA WILL STOP " I've heard this before when the fuel price sky rocketed durinng the Gulf War. The independent truckers wanted to protest against it but none of them had the guts or balls to do it like the Canadian truckers.( I'm also a 32 year independent trucker too

  4. Anonymous10:14 AM

    I think the law should go for everybody not just for truckers..

  5. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Yet Florida mails driver's licenses to 90 year olds who can't get to the DMV to get their license like the rest of us. I've had more near death experiences from old people pulling in front of me or meandering from lane to lane. Can't target that voting block, however.