CMV Drivers Hand-Held Cell-Phone Ban

Texting Ban Now Extended To Hand-Held Cell-Phone Calls

In September 2010, the FMCSA issued a regulation banning text messaging while driving a CMV, and PHMSA followed with a companion regulation in February 2011, banning texting by intrastate hazardous materials drivers.

Starting 2102 , commercial drivers may not use a hand-held cell phone while driving.

Penalties Starting January 3, 2012

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has set January 3, 2012, as the effective date of the new hand-held cell-phone ban that was announced in late November and published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2011.

Inter-state Drivers

The rule — issued jointly by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) — prohibits interstate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.

Intra-state Drivers

For intrastate drivers, the ban only applies to those hauling hazardous materials for now, but the states are expected to apply the ban to all in-state commercial drivers in coming years.

Hands-free Only

Under the new rule, CMV drivers will not be able to hold, dial, or reach for a hand-held cell phone, including those with push-to-talk capability. Hands-free phone use is allowed, as is the use of CB radios and two-way radios.

Specifically, the rule prohibits drivers from:

  • Using at least one hand to hold a mobile phone to conduct a voice communication;
  • Dialing or answering a mobile phone by pressing more than a single button, and
  • Reaching for a mobile phone in a manner that requires the driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated, belted, driving position.

Drivers will not be able to use hand-held phones while temporarily stopped due to traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays, but they will be able to use them after moving the vehicle to the side of, or off, the highway and stopping in a safe location.

Save Yourself From Penalties

Drivers who violate the new ban will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification for multiple offenses. Companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

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