It is common sense that prevents us from using cellphones while driving. Doing so distracts us from the road which increases the risk of an accident. Still, many of us talk on the phone or even text while driving. It is not a great idea for any driver, and especially when driving is your job. It is no wonder that the FMCSA have special rules and regulations regarding the use of phones while driving a commercial vehicle.
It might not seem like a big deal to a driver to take a phone call or take a look at the map on the screen while driving. It only takes seconds and you feel like nothing is going to happen. But you probably donâ€™t realize that when you take your eyes off the road for 4 seconds at the speed of 55mph, the truck will travel no less than 300 feet. To compare, it is longer than a football field. The statistics are that when you text while driving, the risk of an accident increases 23,2 times.
So when common sense doesn’t work, the FMSCA regulations still does. Distracted driving means texting, reaching, holding, dialing or reading while driving. Using hands-free devices is allowed. Device is considered “hands-free” when you can activate it by touching a single button while being seated and restrained.
The penalties for distracted driving are what surely should stop a commercial vehicle driver from using a hand-held device while driving. If you are caught driving while distracted, you can be fined up to $2,750. If you are caught more than once, you can end up being disqualified or out-of-service for up to 120 days. If your employer is aware or require that you use a hand-held device, they can be fined up to &11,000. This will also affect your employer’s Safety Measurement System ratings in a negative way. Trucking companies should be providing hands-free dispatching devices to their drivers.
Different states have different rules considering distracted driving but any over-the-road driver is still subject to the FMCSA regulations no matter what state they are in or headed to.
You also can’t use a hand-held device while stuck in traffic or waiting at a traffic light. But you can use it when pulled over to the side of the road.
The purpose of these regulations is to keep the roads safe. Drivers need to know and understand the rules regarding distracted driving and not forget common sense while using them.