Montana School Bus Contractors Association

Montana School Bus Contractors Association

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DOT Announces Final Rule on Cell Phone Ban

Posted by Maxine Mougeot on January 6, 2012 at 9:30 PM

DOT Announces Final Rule on Hand-Held Cell Phone Ban Use by Drivers of Buses and Large Trucks

Written by Sylvia Arroyo

A final rule was announced today by the U.S. Department of Transportation that specifically prohibits interstate commercial drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating their commercial truck or bus. The final rule does not apply to school bus drivers.

The ban — a final 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 DOT to end driver distraction and affects about four million commercial drivers.

 

The final rule is a follow up to a September 2010 FMCSA regulation banning text messaging while operating a commercial truck or bus. In February of this year, PHMSA added a companion regulation banning texting by intrastate hazardous materials drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists the states that presently have cell phone and texting bans for school bus drivers.

 

Studies on driver distraction have produced mixed results, but according to FMCSA research using a hand-held cell phone while driving requires a commercial driver to take several risky steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including searching and reaching for the phone.

 

Research showed that 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. They are six times more likely to be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event when dialing a hand-held cell phone.

 

Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses. Additionally, states will suspend a driver’s commercial driver’s license after two or more serious traffic violations. Commercial truck and bus companies will face a maximum penalty of $11,000 if they allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving.

** Note from Maxine - Remember that cities and towns around the state of Montana are creating Cell Phone bans for all drivers. Each driver must be aware of existing laws and rules.

Categories: Legislative Actions

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