The FMCSA and the (Pipeline and) Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) have published rules prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers, or any driver transporting quantities of hazardous materials, from texting or using hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles. The joint rule is the latest action made by the U.S. Department of Transportation to end distracted driving. Violations result in fines or driver disqualification and impact motor carriers’ driver Safety Measurement System (SMS) results.
No Texting while Driving
CMV drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, which means manually entering text into or reading from an electronic device.
This includes, but is not limited to, text message services; emailing; instant messaging; accessing Web pages; pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate voice communication; or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry.
Do not Type or Read a Text Message while Driving (CMV)
The rule restricts a CMV driver from reaching for or holding a mobile phone to conduct voice communications, as well as dialing by pressing more than a single button. CMV drivers who use a mobile phone while driving can only operate a hands-free device located within close proximity.
How Drivers can use a Mobile Phone and still Obey the Rules
Locate the mobile phone so it is accessible to the driver while properly restrained by a safety belt. Utilize an earpiece or the speaker phone function. Use voice-activated or one-button touch features to initiate, answer, or terminate calls.
What happens if a Driver is caught using a Hand-Held Phone or Texting while Driving?
The rule imposes sanctions for a driver’s offense, including civil penalties up to $2,750 and driver disqualification for multiple offenses. Motor carriers are prohibited from allowing drivers to text or use a hand-held mobile phone while driving and may be subject to penalties up to $11,000.
What are the Risks?
The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are 23.3 times greater for CMV drivers texting while driving. Texting drivers took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this equates to a driver traveling the approximate length of a football field without looking at the roadway, making the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event six times greater.
I strongly encourage all drivers who read this prestigious magazine not to use your phones while driving. The bottom line is easy: no call, no text, no ticket.