The U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing a federal rule to bar interstate truck drivers from using cell phones while operating their vehicles, but the rule stops short of barring the use of phones entirely.
Proposed late Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rule would prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones, including “reaching for, holding or dialing” the devices while operating a commercial truck or bus. It would allow hands-free operations.
It also would extend the potential penalty to companies that allow drivers to use hand-held phones, with a maximum fine of $11,000. Drivers would face a penalty of $2,750 and the loss of their commercial driver’s license for multiple violations.
Distracted driving news from JOC:
DOT Proposes Texting Ban For Hazmat Truckers.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made distracted driving a key cause of his leadership at the DOT, speaking on the topic at events around the country and writing blog items about the victims of crashes caused by distracted drivers.
“Every time a commercial truck or bus driver takes his or her eyes off the road to use a cell phone, even for a few seconds, the driver places everyone around them at risk,” LaHood said. “This proposed rule will go a long way toward keeping a driver’s full attention focused on the road.”
Trucking groups have spoken out in favor of the DOT initiatives against texting while driving, but some industry executives have said privately any rules must take into account the communications and information many companies expect from drivers.