Federal Rule Bans Use of Hand-Held Cell Phones by Commercial Drivers
Furthering the fight to end distracted driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation, through U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, announced a final rule banning interstate commercial (truck and bus) drivers from using hand-held cell phones. The final rule builds off the 2010 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) texting ban by prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones to make calls while behind the wheel, limiting the potential for Chicago semi tractor-trailer accidents caused by distracted driving. Commercial drivers who violate the new rule will face fines up to $2,750 per offense and risk being “disqualified from operating a commercial” vehicle for multiple violations of the rule. If a commercial driver is involved in two or more serious accidents, Illinois and other states have the option to revoke the driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL). Trucking and bus companies that permit drivers to use hand-held cell phones may be fined $11,000.
Distracted Drivers Create Safety Risks on Busy Chicago Roadways
The hand-held cell phone ban is aimed at improving the safety of America’s roads by preventing devastating trucking accidents. According to FMCSA research, commercial drivers are three times more likely to be involved in an accident while reaching for objects like cell phones. Further, accidents are six times more likely to occur when a commercial driver is dialing a hand-held cell phone. Noting the safety aspects of the new rule, Secretary LaHood stated, “I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that accidents involving distracted drivers killed approximately 5474 people and injured nearly 500,000 more in 2009. The NHTSA estimates that fatalities resulting from distracted-driving accidents accounted for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, “U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Final Rule That Bans Hand-Held Cell Phone Use by Drivers of Buses and Large Trucks,” 23 November 2011