As previously reported here, the use of cell phones while driving has been under attack. Most recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented new regulations governing the use of hand held cellular phones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles. This new regulation affects trucking companies, construction contractors, public and private transportation organizations and any other entity that employs drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV). This regulation is in addition to any state and local laws that may prohibit cellular phone usage altogether. CMV drivers are prohibited from holding a mobile phone while operating the vehicle. This includes holding the phone to initiate push-to-talk features. Furthermore, drivers are not permitted to dial a mobile phone if it requires pushing more than a single button. Basically, the only permitted use is for the driver to use a single button push-to-talk feature while the phone is cradled in an easily accessible position where the driver is not forced to reach for the phone.
Operating a CMV under this regulation includes while the vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic patterns. However, it is permissible for the driver to pull off to the side of the road and stop completely to use a mobile communication device. Violations carry federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and possible suspension of the driver’s commercial driver’s license. Employer’s permitting their drivers to use hand-held devices while operating a CMV could face penalties up to $11,000.
As a result, employers should closely monitor their drivers, implement procedures to ensure their drivers comply with this regulation and promptly educate their drivers regarding these new requirements. It may be necessary to update your hand held communication device policy to comply with this regulation.