WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government has proposed a new safety regulation that would prohibit interstate commercial truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
“Every time a commercial truck or bus driver takes his or her eyes off the road to use a cell phone, even for a few seconds, the driver places everyone around them at risk,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “This proposed rule will go a long way toward keeping a driver’s full attention focused on the road.”
The proposed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule would prohibit commercial drivers from reaching for, holding or dialing a cell phone while operating a CMV. This restriction would be applied to school bus operations by private operators in interstate commerce, according to the proposal.
Violators would face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification of their commercial driver’s license (CDL) for multiple offenses.
In addition, the proposed rule provides for driver disqualification penalties for CDL drivers who are convicted, within a three-year period, of multiple violations of state traffic laws on the use of cell phones while driving. This would apply to all CMV drivers, including federal, state and local government employees (including school bus drivers) who are required to hold CDLs. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia ban school bus drivers from using a cell phone while driving.
FMCSA is providing 60 days for the public to comment on the rulemaking. The proposal and information about how to submit comments can be found here.