What You Need to Know
New texting and mobile phone restrictions for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers
The FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have published rules specifically
prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers and drivers who transport placardable quantities of hazardous materials from
texting or using hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles. The joint rules are the latest actions by the U.S.
Department of Transportation to end distracted driving. Violations can result in fines and/or disqualifications and will
impact a motor carrier’s and/or driver’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) results.
No texting while driving
CMV drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. So what qualifies as texting? Texting means manually entering
alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device. This includes, but is not limited to, short message
service, e-mailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a Web page, or pressing more than a single
button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile phone. (Click here for final rule)
Do not type or read a text message while driving a CMV!
Use of mobile phones is restricted for CMV drivers
This ruling restricts a CMV driver from reaching for or holding a mobile phone
to conduct a voice communication, as well as dialing by pressing more than a
single button. CMV drivers who use a mobile phone while driving can only operate
a hands-free phone located in close proximity. In short, the rule prohibits unsafely
reaching for a device, holding a mobile phone, or pressing multiple buttons. (Click here for final rule)
How can drivers use a mobile phone and still obey the rules?
- Locate the mobile phone so it is operable by the driver while restrained by
properly adjusted safety belts.
- Utilize an earpiece or the speaker phone function.
- Use voice-activated or one-button touch features to initiate, answer, or
terminate a call.
What happens if a driver is caught using a hand-held phone
or texting while driving?
The rules impose sanctions for driver offenses, including civil penalties up to
$2,750 and disqualification for multiple offenses. Motor carriers are also prohibited
from requiring or allowing their drivers to text or use a hand-held mobile phone
while driving and may be subject to civil penalties up to $11,000. Violations will
impact SMS results. Texting and calling on a hand-held phone carry the worst
possible violation severity weights against a driver’s results!
What are the risks?
Besides penalties and possible disqualification, recent research shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical
event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who text while driving
than for those who do not. Texting drivers took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this
equates to a driver traveling the approximate length of a football field — without looking at the roadway! For CMV
drivers who dial a mobile phone while driving, the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are six times greater
than for those who do not. Why take chances?
BOTTOM LINE: Using a hand held device while driving is a serious traffic violation that could result in a disqualification.
No call, no text, no ticket!