Commercial truck accidents cost millions of dollars and hundreds of lives every year. The latest federal regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), both branches of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), is a joint effort to further the DOT's mission of reducing distracted driving truck accidents and motor coach and bus accidents. This final rule should help reduce truck accidents from Kansas City, Missouri to Sikeston and the Bootheel.
FMCSA Final Rule
The hand held cell phone rule has been in the making for almost a year. It was originally proposed December 21, 2010, after several fatal accidents involving cell phone use. The announcement about the final rule decision was made by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on November 23, 2011. The final rule prohibits commercial drivers of interstate commercial trucks and buses from using a hand held cell phone. They are currently allowed to use hands free.
In September 2010, the FMCSA issued regulations banning text messaging. This latest regulation prohibiting hand held cell phone use should help reduce a significant proportion of distracted truck and bus drivers.Many of the larger commercial trucking and bus companies already have company rules in place that restrict hand held cell phone use: this recent federal ruling will strengthen everyone's efforts to reduce truck and bus accidents even more.
FMCSA Driver Distraction Concerns
Any time a commercial driver takes their hands, eyes, or focus off of the road for even a few seconds, there is an increased risk of a truck or bus accident. Secretary LaHood is hopeful that this latest regulation will help to improve a commercial driver's focus to remain safe at all times.
FMCSA research showed that a hand held cell phone requires numerous risky behaviors, especially when compared to the use of hands free devices. From looking for the cell phone to reaching for it to holding it, a driver's hands, eyes, and attention is diverted from the road. Any time a commercial driver reaches for any object, such as a cell phone, they are three times more likely to be involved in an accident. Dialing a hand held cell phone makes it six times more likely a driver will be involved in an accident.
The final rule also includes new driver disqualification sanctions if they fail to comply and use a hand held cell phone:
- $2,750 for each offense
- Disqualification from commercial driving for multiple offenses
- State suspended CDL for two or more serious traffic violations
- Maximum penalty of $11,000 for companies that allow hand held cell phone use by drivers
This rule will affect hundreds of thousands of commercial truck and bus drivers. And the hand held cell phone use ban should help to reduce the number of truck and bus accidents caused by distracted commercial vehicle drivers here in Missouri.
For the complete text of the rule, visit FMCSA. For more information about distracted driving, visit the DOT's site especially dedicated to stopping distracted driving. And for more information about truck and bus accidents, and what you can do in the aftermath of one, visit the Missouri truck accident lawyers.