Cell Phone Ban for Commercial Vehicles Takes Effect TODAY

A new year ushers in new laws, and one potentially applicable to participants in the construction industry is the new regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and  Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicles.

The new 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.

The rule also applies to intrastate drivers who operate commercial vehicles transporting a quantity of hazardous materials requiring placarding under 49 CFR Part 172 or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73.

Note that the rule applies to the popular “push-to-talk” devices frequently utilized in the construction industry.

Under the new regulation, a driver can only initiate, answer or terminate a call by touching a single button on a mobile telephone, earpiece, steering wheel or instrument panel.

Employers should consider establishing policies or practices that make it clear that its employees and agents are neither required nor allowed to use hand-held mobile telephone devices while driving a commercial vehicle.

For more on the new rule, see the attached link announcing the rule and an accompanying FAQ.

2 Comments

Filed under Federal law, policy & news

2 responses to “Cell Phone Ban for Commercial Vehicles Takes Effect TODAY

  1. Only my opinion but I think Bluetooth is equally distracting as well, as is having a conversation while driving. I side swiped my car against a pole in a parking garage once because I was distracted talking to a passenger. Bluetooth use is still distracting mentally; people need to concentrate on driving and not their conversation.

  2. T

    I just love how most of our laws tend to be reactionary and generally not well thought out. I have the uncanny ability to prioritize tasks on the basis of importance. Therefore I prioritize traffic movement above the conversation on the phone. As a result of this, I have never been in an accident (with the exception of a deer) BUT I do tend to say “what?” a lot.
    If you find yourself being honked at or drifting out of your lane,.. Perhaps you should heed the bumper sticker ahead of you and “Hang up and DRIVE”.
    We do not need legislation that reduces those who function well to society’s lowest common denominator. I would much rather see cellphone use as an aggravating factor in citations in traffic related misdemeanors and felonies.

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