Cell Phone Rules for Commercial Truck Drivers in Utah
Distracted driving is dangerous driving. Yet people continually turn to cell phones to keep themselves entertained, especially on long-haul road trips. Unfortunately, the same is true for commercial truck drivers. Truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel and away from home, often using their cell phones for distraction and connection. Sadly, this behavior can jeopardize the safety of everyone on the road.
Making matters worse, truck drivers often cross state lines as part of their jobs. The United States has a patchwork of cell phone bans and distracted driving laws, making understanding each state’s cell phone restrictions challenging. But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the trucking industry, restricts cell phone use for commercial drivers. There’s simply no excuse for using a cell phone while driving a semi-truck.
Did a distracted truck driver cause an accident that injured you? At Swenson & Shelley, we believe all responsible parties should be held financially accountable for what happened. Let our experienced attorneys help you pursue full and fair compensation for you. Contact us today for a free consultation with a skilled truck accident lawyer.
Mobile Phone Restrictions for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established rules governing the use of cell phones by commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. FMCSA rules prohibit CMV drivers from using all types of handheld mobile devices. These devices include cell phones and smartphones.
Using a handheld device means different things to different people. FMCSA outlines the term “use” and stipulates that prohibited actions include:
- Using at least one hand to hold a cell phone to make or receive a call
- Dialing a cell phone by pressing more than one button
- Reaching for a cell phone so the truck driver is no longer in an upright and seated position, or the seat belt no longer restrains the driver
The best option for using a handheld cell phone while driving a commercial truck is to pull over to a secure location and make a call while stationary. FMCSA also relaxes mobile phone restrictions in cases where drivers must use their phones to make a call to emergency services.
Can Truckers Talk on Cell Phone While Driving?
Technically, FMCSA rules do not restrict a truck driver’s ability to talk on their cell phone if they adhere to the federal phone restrictions. Drivers can use voice-activated dialing and hands-free cell phone features to talk to friends, family, and co-workers while on the road.
To comply with FMCSA regulations, a driver must keep their cell phone in a location where they can initiate or terminate a call by touching a single button. The driver must also remain seated, upright, and wear a seat belt while making a call.
Are Truck Drivers Allowed to Use Bluetooth Headsets?
Truck drivers can use Bluetooth devices like earpieces to talk on the phone while driving. FMCSA guidelines do not prevent drivers from taking advantage of this type of hands-free technology. However, drivers must still follow cell phone regulations dictating that their phone must be close by and that Bluetooth can only be activated using a single button or voice command.
Texting Qualifies as Using a Handheld Device
Texting while driving a commercial vehicle is strictly prohibited. CMV operators cannot text on a mobile device while driving. Texting means entering, sending, or reading texts, instant messages, and emails on an electronic device. Even entering words into a search engine can count as texting under FMCSA guidelines.
Cell Phone Penalties for Commercial Vehicle Drivers
The FMCSA takes road safety seriously. Commercial truck drivers caught disregarding cell phone regulations can face stiff consequences, including:
- Fines up to $2,750 for truck drivers
- Fines up to $11,000 for trucking companies
- Driver disqualification for up to 120 days
Furthermore, texting also negatively affects Safety Measurement System (SMS) results. The SMS scores carrier and driver performance in various areas to determine candidates for additional intervention by FMCSA. It monitors specific safety issues and whether they worsen or improve. Depending on the violation, intervention could be as simple as a warning letter to the trucking company or a more severe penalty.
Drivers may also face internal penalties from their employers and state fines. If their actions injure others, drivers and trucking companies may be held liable through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Truck Driving Accidents and Distracted Driving
Texting is hazardous because drivers must take their eyes and hands off the wheel to send and read messages. Diverting one’s attention for a few seconds may seem trivial but consider this statistic: it takes five seconds to read a text message. A truck driver traveling 55 miles per hour who diverts their eyes from the road for five seconds will cover the length of a football field before they finish reading their text. That’s enough time and distance to cause a major collision with potentially deadly ramifications.
Additional information from FMCSA indicates that the odds of a truck driver being involved in a safety-critical event like a crash are six times greater when the CMV driver is using a cell phone.
Hurt by a Trucker Using a Cell Phone? Call a Utah Truck Accident Lawyer Now
At Swenson & Shelley, our Utah truck accident attorneys understand the immense toll a distracted driving accident can take on a crash victim and their family. A truck crash can leave you struggling physically and financially for years to come. It can be difficult to go head-to-head with a trucking company and their insurer to get the money you are entitled to. You need a law firm with the dedication and resources to help you fight for every penny you deserve.
Ready to learn more about your legal options? Set up a free case review today.