Half a million injuries and nearly 5500 deaths were attributed to accidents involving distracted driving in 2009.
In a giant step toward safety, a final rule was announced restricting the use of hand-held cell phones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The rule – which can affect as many as four million commercial drivers – is the latest effort by the DOT to put an end to distracted driving.
A serious problem described in simple terms: “Distracted driving refers to any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him/her from paying attention to the road." It includes things such as using a cell phone to talk or text, to using a navigation system and more.
"I hope this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Final Rule Overview
The final rule bars commercial drivers from using hand-held devices while operating a commercial truck or bus.
Each offense can cost the violator up to $2,750; while multiple offenses can result in disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle.
After two or more serious violations, states can move to suspend the CDL license of the driver.
A hefty penalty up to $11,000 can be charged to companies that permit drivers to use hand-held phones while behind the wheel.
The final hand-held cell phone ban rule can be read here.
Research conducted by FMCSA shows that the use of a hand-held cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle involves several risky actions on behalf of the driver. In fact, a commercial driver reaching for a cell phone, or other item, is three times as likely to be involved in a crash; it is six times more likely for a commercial driver to be involved in an accident while dialing a cell phone.
FMCSA issued a ban on text messaging while operating a commercial truck or bus in September 2010.