Distracted Driving: Commercial Motor Vehicles

Promoting safe operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs)
and reducing the number and severity of crashes on U.S. roadways is critical to
the mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In
2009, FMSCA released crash data that indicated that 41,059 people were killed
in road crashes in 2007 (FMCSA, 2009a). Of these fatalities, 12 percent (4,808)
involved large trucks. On the bright side, this represented a net decrease in
fatalities, down 7.5 percent from 1998 to 2007, but there are nevertheless
issues around distracted driving that are keeping the numbers as high as they
are.

Texting and mobile phone restrictions for CMV
drivers were introduced by FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration (PHMSA) in 2010. The rules
were specifically targeted to prohibit interstate truck and bus drivers and
drivers who transport placardable quantities of hazardous materials from
texting or using hand-held mobile phones while operating their trucks. The
joint rules were created by the U.S. Department of Transportation to help
reduce distracted driving and related commercial truck accidents. Truck drivers
who violate the rules may face fines and/or driver disqualifications that will
impact a motor carrier’s and/or driver’s Safety Measurement System
(SMS) results.

What does
the rule ban specifically?

CMV drivers are prohibited from manually
entering alphanumeric text into or reading text from an electronic device. This
includes, but is not limited to, short message service, e-mailing, instant
messaging, a command or request to access a web page, pressing more than a
single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile
phone or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry,
for present or future communication. In summary, the rule
prohibits unsafely reaching for a device, holding a mobile
phone or pressing multiple buttons while driving.

CMV drivers
may still use their phones if:

  • The mobile
    phone is placed so it is operable by the driver while restrained by
    properly adjusted safety belts.
  • An
    earpiece or the speaker phone function is used.
  • Voice-activated
    or one-button touch features are used to initiate, answer or end a call.

What are the penalties for breaking the rules?

The rule imposes
sanctions
for driver offenses, including civil penalties up to $2,750 and
driver disqualification for multiple offenses. If a motor carrier employer is
found to require that their employees answer messages or calls while driving,
they may be subject to civil penalties up to $11,000.

Distracted driving
statistics for CMV drivers

The FMSCA study used the term “safety-critical
events” to determine when distracted driving caused a risk. These events are
defined as crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts (less severe
near-crashes) and unintentional lane deviations.

?? Out of 4,452
identified safety-critical events, 81.5 percent had some type of driver
distraction listed as a potential contributing factor.

?? The research
study showed that the odds of a CMV driver being involved in a truck accident
are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who text while driving than for
those who do not.

?? For CMV
drivers who dial a mobile phone while driving, the odds of being involved in a
safety-critical event are six times greater than for those who do
not.

?? Texting
drivers took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55
mph, this is equivalent to a driver traveling the approximate length of a
football field.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have
enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident
attorney
fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not
uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten
times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in
Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing
residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County
since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we
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In
2009, FMSCA released crash data that indicated that 41,059 people were killed
in road crashes in 2007 (FMCSA, 2009a). Of these fatalities, 12 percent (4,808)
involved large trucks. On the bright side, this represented a net decrease in
fatalities, down 7.5 percent from 1998 to 2007, but there are nevertheless
issues around distracted driving that are keeping the numbers as high as they
are.

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