Starting January 3, 2012, a joint new Rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration with the purpose of ending distracted driving by commercial truck and bus drivers went into effect. Commercial drivers subject to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s rules will no longer be able to use hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial truck or bus. This new Rule will improve safety on the Nation’s highways by reducing the number of distracted driving related crashes, fatalities, and injuries involving drivers of commercial motor vehicles. This Rule does allow commercial truck and bus drivers to communicate by cell phones equipped with hands-free devices. Approximately four million commercial truck and bus drivers will be affected by this Rule. The Rule can be found at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/rulemakings/final/Mobile_phone_NFRM.aspx .
Commercial truck and bus drivers who violate the prohibition will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and for multiple offenses, disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle. Commercial trucking and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000. States will also suspend a driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) after two or more serious traffic violations.
Research has evidenced that commercial truck and bus drivers even reaching for an object, such as a cell phone, are three (3) times more likely to be involved in a crash or other unsafe event. It has also evidenced that dialing a hand-held cell phone are six (6) times more likely that commercial truck and bus drivers will be involved in a crash or other unsafe event. *
Terrell • Hogan views this new Rule as important to reducing distracted driving and effectuating safety.
* Olson, R. L., Hanowski, R.J., Hickman, J.S., & Bocanegra, J. (2009), Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations, (Document No. FMCSA-RRR-09-042) Washington, DC: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.