Commercial Drivers Prohibited From Using Mobile Phones

by Michael Haberman on December 30, 2011 · 0 comments

Effective January 3, 2012 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued rules restricting the use of mobile telephones while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). This new rule will cover not only apply to drivers and motor carriers, it will also apply to school bus operations and vehicles carrying 9-15 passengers not for direct compensation, which are normally exempt from other FMCSA rules.

This new regulation is an amendment to current regulations. According to an analysis by attorney Matt Stone of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLC:

Effective January 3, 2012, no driver shall use – and no motor carrier shall allow or require a driver to use – a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV.  To comply with the new rules, it’s important to understand two key points:

  • First, use of a hand-held mobile telephone means using at least one hand to hold it to conduct a voice communication, dialing or answering it by pressing more than a single button, or reaching for it in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he is no longer in a seated driving position with his seat belt fastened.
  • Second, driving means operating a CMV on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays.

There are some exceptions including “Drivers may still use a mobile telephone while driving, but they must use a speakerphone or hands-free device and be able to make or receive a call without having to press more than a single button and without having to reach for the phone.”

To review the entire document and to understand the various definitions in this new regulations you can review the DOT document here.

So those of you that work for companies that have commercial motor vehicles you need to craft a policy that specifically addresses this new regulation.

Personally, while I am not a fan of more regulation, I am happy to see this one. Driving on the freeway it bothers me to see a hugh 18 wheeler barreling down the road and the driver is holding a phone to his ear. To me it has always made common sense to use a hands free device. Sorry it had to come to regulation.

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