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.