The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has specific rules that prohibit Interstate truck and bus drivers and those who are moving quantities of hazardous materials that require placards from texting and/or using hand held mobile phone devices while driving/operating motor vehicles. Violations can result in fines and disqualifications that will impact a motor carrier’s safety measurement. Plain and simple, commercial motor vehicle operators cannot text while driving. Apparently, there is an issue as to what defines “texting”. It has been defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to mean manually entering alpha numeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device. This rule is also used to impose sanctions including civil penalties and disqualifications from operating a commercial motor vehicle in Interstate Commerce for all drivers who have failed to be in compliance.
Although these rules have been in place since 2010, the recent flurry of accidents which occur because of the use of hand held devices and, in particular texting while driving, has become a grave national concern for motorists safety. Statistics gathered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show that the odds of being involved in a safety/critical event that is a crash, near crash or unintentional lane deviation is more than 23 times greater when motor vehicle operators are texting. The average time for an operator to take their eyes off the road for texting is 4.6 seconds. At 55 m.p.h. this equals the length of a football field without looking at the road ahead. As of May, 2012 texting while driving can result in a commercial driver’s disqualification, penalties up to $2,750 for drivers and $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use hand held communication devices while driving. Be mindful that multiple convictions for texting while driving a commercial vehicle can result in driver disqualification by the Federal Authority and multiple violations of State law prohibiting texting while driving a vehicle that requires a CDL is a serious traffic violation that results in CDL disqualification for up to 120 days. We must be vigilant in continuing to report such violations by commercial vehicle operators.