Commercial Vehicle Drivers Banned from Using Handheld Mobile Devices


Smartphone technology has greatly benefited commercial drivers. Mobile devices allow long-haul drivers to stay connected to loved ones during extended absences. In some cases, the job requires truck drivers to remain in contact with supervisors and customers, a duty made more convenient by the cellphone. Mobile phones also give drivers crucial access to immediate help in an emergency. When used inappropriately, however, smartphones increase the risk of serious traffic accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that drivers are six times more likely to be in a safety-critical circumstance — such as an accident, close call or unintentional lane change — while dialing a cellphone than those who concentrated on their driving. In addition, the FMCSA estimates that drivers are 23.2 times more likely to be in a safety-critical situation while texting than drivers who are not distracted.

Because of the size and weight of commercial motor vehicles (CMV), crashes tend to cause serious and fatal injuries.

The FMCSA recently released updated regulations restricting handheld device use by commercial drivers. The law prohibits CMV drivers from the following:

  • Holding the phone with at least one hand to make a call or to text
  • Hitting more than one button to dial, initiate or terminate a call
  • Reaching for a phone if the driver must move out of the seated driving position or unbuckle her or his seatbelt
  • Typing a message into or reading text from an electronic device
  • Writing or retrieving messages on email, instant message, text, short message service, or any other current or future form of communication
  • Accessing the Internet

The rules permit commercial drivers to use hands-free devices.

Penalties are steep for both drivers and employers that violate these rules, and include the following:

  • Fines of up to $2,750 for drivers who use a handheld device while operating a CMV
  • Fines of up to $11,000 for employers that either require or permit communication using a handheld device while driving
  • Commercial motor vehicle drivers’ license suspension or disqualification for drivers who commit multiple offenses


Topics:  Cell Phones, Mobile Devices, Smartphones, Trucking Industry

Published In: Personal Injury Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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