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The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has found distracted drivers to be the 10th ranking critical concern for the trucking industry in 2014. This is the first time distracted driving has made the top industry issue prioritization list.
On December 2, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule banning the use of hand-held mobile telephones by drivers while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). The rule became effective January 3, 2012, and prohibits drivers from reaching for, holding, texting or dialing a mobile telephone while driving a CMV. The ban applies when the vehicle is in operation, is temporarily stopped on the highway for traffic, or is waiting at a stoplight, stop sign, or other traffic control device. Hands-free use of a mobile telephone is permitted with a wireless earpiece or through one-touch dialing and operation of the speakerphone function. The rule further states that motor carriers and employers are prohibited from allowing or requiring drivers to use hand-held mobile telephones while operating the vehicle. Motor carriers that do not adhere to this provision will be fined a maximum penalty of $11,000. Drivers who violate the restriction will face a fine of up to $2,750 per violation.
The final rule is available here.
As technology use has increased, particularly text messaging, the issue of distracted driving has been pushed to the forefront of our industry. Research shows that CMV drivers that text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event, like a car crash, than those who do not text. The texting drivers, on average stopped looking at the road for 4.6 seconds, approximating the length of a football field when driving 55mph. Similarly, drivers dialing a mobile phone were six times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event. Due to this data and regulatory interpretation, the Department of Transportation and the FMCSA have been working since 2009 to eliminate cell phone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers.