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Tuscaloosa Truck Wreck Lawyer Warns: Truckers Retain Certain Cell Phone Rights

Jan 22, 2016 - Truck Accidents, Tuscaloosa by

Considering that thousands of drivers across the country operate electronic devices while driving, it is not surprising that many people are injured in distracted driving accidents every day. When large commercial trucks are involved, the chances for serious injuries and fatalities increases exponentially due to the weight of these vehicles.

In spite of this risk, however, federal trucking regulations do not impose any additional electronic device restrictions on truck drivers than the ones commonly imposed by the states for drivers of passenger vehicles.

Proposed Ban Fails, but Limited Ban Takes Hold

Asserting that distracted driving was approaching the risks of DUI driving back in 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) proposed a full ban on the use of even hands-free devices for novice drivers, school bus drivers and commercial truckers. While that ban failed, the NTSB tried repeating the hands-free ban recommendation in 2014 after cell phone use by a truck driver appeared to be the direct cause of a massive truck-versus-train collision in Maryland.

Regrettably, federal legislators have not recognized the wisdom of the NTSB recommendations. Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued the following restrictions for interstate truck and bus drivers, as well as for anyone who transports certain hazardous materials:

  • No texting while driving: The restriction clearly defines texting as anything that requires more than a single button-press.
  • Hands-free talking: Commercial motor vehicle drivers cannot hold a phone to talk, and the rule includes anything that amounts to reaching for a phone for positioning purposes. The single-button press rule also applies for talking.
  • Carrier involvement: The restrictions extend to trucking companies, which cannot require or allow drivers to text or use hand-held phones.

While these restrictions are not significantly different from the ones imposed on any driver in most states, the penalties are potentially more severe. Drivers who disobey these restrictions can face extensive civil penalty fines, and they would become disqualified to drive if they have multiple offenses on their records. Motor carriers face significantly higher fines, and violations can severely impact their Safety Management System results.

Truck Driver Experience Does Not Equate to Better Distraction Handling

Truckers definitely spend more time behind the wheel than most passenger vehicle drivers. It is conceivable that long-haul drivers drive for a large portion of every day over a period of weeks. Short-haul drivers, on the other hand, may go home every evening, but they experience greater challenges dealing with smaller roads and tricky maneuvers.

Unfortunately, extra experience can cause drivers to believe that they have learned to better deal with distractions of any kind. Anyone who suffers serious injuries because a trucker believed that he or she had superior abilities to handle distractions should seek legal support. Look for an attorney with special knowledge about the complex issues associated with truck accidents.

Additional Resources:

NHTSA Survey Finds 660,000 Drivers Using Cell Phones or Manipulating Electronic Devices While Driving At Any Given Daylight Moment, U.S. Department of Transportation

Distracted Driving topic Motor Vehicle Safety, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Other Blog topics:

The NTSB Proposes Cell Phone Ban for Commercial Truck Drivers, Tuscaloosa Truck Accident Blog

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