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FMCSA rules attempt to reduce truck driver distractions

Let's be realistic. Driving all day gets boring. Truck drivers may begin to search for distractions to keep their minds occupied and their eyes open. Unfortunately, distractions increase the probability of an accident.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implements and enforces rules on truck drivers designed to keep them from allowing distractions to take their eyes, hands and minds off the road. As you might imagine, the FMCSA prohibits truckers from texting while they drive, but another rule goes beyond just texting. Truck drivers may only use their mobile phones under certain circumstances.

The research

After conducting research regarding dialing a cellphone and the effect it has on the ability to drive safely, FMCSA discovered that dialing a cellphone causes the following:

  • Increases the potential for a near-crash, crash or unintended lane change by a factor of six
  • Takes a driver's eyes off the road for around 3.8 seconds

This means that a truck weighing tens of thousands of tons could become a deadly weapon as it travels up to the length of a football field without a driver watching the road.

The rule

For this reason, the FMCSA instituted a rule designed to prevent a driver from subjecting innocent motorists to this type of danger. The rule prohibits truck drivers from doing the following:

  • Leaving the driver's seat at all to reach for a cellphone
  • Holding a cellphone with even one hand
  • Dialing a cellphone

These prohibitions apply even if the driver stops temporarily, such as at a traffic signal while in a commercial vehicle. In order to remain in compliance, a driver may do the following:

  • Use a hands-free device that only requires one touch of a button
  • Use voice-activated dialing
  • Use the speaker function or an ear piece

Failure to adhere to these rules could result in fines and other penalties that may include disqualification from driving for a specified period.

The other repercussions

Any administrative repercussions a truck driver may face for using a cellphone in violation of this rule may not compare to the devastation he or she may cause. You may discover that the truck driver who caused the accident that caused you serious injuries or robbed you of a loved one used a cellphone in violation of this or another FMCSA rule at the time of the crash. You could use that fact to try to prove negligence to a Texas civil court in either a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

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