U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Nov. 23 a final rule prohibiting drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from using hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial vehicle. The ban will take effect starting Jan. 3, 2012.
The joint rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the latest action by the U.S. Department of Transportation to end distracted driving.
"When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel."
Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses.
Additionally, states will suspend a driver's CDL after two or more serious traffic violations. Companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
Commercial drivers reaching for an object, such as a cell phone, are three times more likely to be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event, according to FMCSA research. Dialing a hand-held cell phone makes it six times more likely that commercial drivers will be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event.
The final rule document from the DOT can be found here.
Click here for a feature article on how small businesses can create effective cell phone policies to curb distracted driving.