Cell Phones and Truck Accidents
Cell Phone Use and Distracted Driving Lead to Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has reported that truckers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who refrain from distracted driving. Semi trucks – with thousands of pounds in tow – can cause devastation and destruction when they're involved an accident.
Since January 2012, the FMCSA has outlawed the use of handheld electronic devices for truck drivers while in transit. This ruling accounted for commercial drivers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs. or more, stating:
- Drivers cannot hold, dial, or reach for hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicle.
- Drivers are permitted to use a cell phone after pulling their trucks to the side of the road or where the vehicle can remain still.
- Drivers are permitted to use hands-free devices such as an earpiece.
- Drivers face up to a $2,750 fine for each offense. States will suspend a driver's CDL (commercial driver's license) after two or more serious traffic violations.
Truck and bus companies that allow their employees to use hand-held devices while driving a commercial vehicle face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
Cell Phones, Truck Drivers, and the Law: A Timeline
September 2010: The FMCSA issues a regulation banning text messaging while operating a commercial bus or truck.
October 2010: The ban takes effect.
September 13, 2011: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines that an Alabama truck driver was likely using his cell phone at the time of an accident that killed him and 10 others in Munfordville, Kentucky.
September 19, 2011: The NTSB recommends that commercial drivers be prohibited from using both hand-held and hands-free mobile devices. The Safety Board Chairman says, "Changing behavior can start right now, for drivers of big rigs, but also for the rest of us. When you are at the wheel, driving safely should be your only focus."
December 2011: The FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration publish a final rule banning the use of hand-held cell phones by CMV interstate truck drivers and intrastate HAZMAT truck drivers.
January 3, 2012: The rule takes effect.
Truck Drivers and Cell Phone Statistics
According to the FMCSA:
- Truck drivers are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in an accident while texting or using a cell phone.
- Commercial truck drivers reaching for an object are 3 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
- Dialing a hand-held device increases the probability of being involved in an truck accident by 600%.
- A texting truck driver takes his eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that driver travels the length of a football field while checking his text.
Find more truck accident statistics here.
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"Federal board urges cell phone ban for commercial truckers." CNN.com. September 19, 2011.
"Final Rule Prohibits Hand-Held Cell Phone Use by CDL Truck Drivers." Driving Ambition. December 6, 2011.
"U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Final Rule That Bans Hand-Held Cell Phone Use by Drivers of Buses and Large Trucks."
November 23, 2011. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.