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Legal Blog

New Rule Bans Texting and Driving by Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) takes the problem of distracted driving very seriously when it comes to its oversight of the use of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) on the roadways. The agency has established steep penalties for all offenses committed by commercial vehicle operators, including the issue of texting and driving by truck drivers. The lives of drivers and pedestrians are on the line, and this is why the FMCSA has taken such strong action to curb this problem.

With over four decades of legal experience, The Krist Law Firm, P.C. understands how life-changing an accident involving a truck or big semi-rig can be to you and your family. If you have been injured in a trucking collision, you may be facing serious physical and financial hardships. Our legal team can help. Call our skilled Houston truck accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at (281) 283-8500 to request a free legal consultation about your case.

Restricted Use of Mobile Devices While Driving

Under federal law, texting is defined as “manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.” The definition of texting covers more than simply SMS text messages. It also includes instant messages sent through any type of program, including Skype, MSN Messenger, Facebook Messenger, emails, entering a URL to access a website, browsing the internet, pressing more than one button to begin or end a call with a mobile phone, or engaging in any other type of electronic text input or retrieval.

FMCSA Stats on Dangers of Mobile Phone Use While Driving

The FMCSA has published a number of statistics that demonstrate the dangers of commercial motor vehicle operators, including truck drivers, texting, and using cell phones while operating a commercial vehicle.

  • Truck drivers who simultaneously text and drive are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a vehicular crash, a close-call, or an accidental lane change than those drivers who are not using their phone or other type of texting device.
  • Drivers who were texting diverted their eyes from the roadway for an average of 4.6 seconds. Driving at a speed of 55 mph, this means that driver will travel the approximate length of a football field within that period of time, including the end zones.
  • A commercial driver who drives and dials a handheld mobile phone is six times more likely to be involved in a truck accident.
  • Truck drivers who simply reach for a mobile phone are three times more likely to be in a trucking accident.

The danger to human life is very real when it comes to commercial motor vehicle drivers using their cell phones and operating their vehicle at the same time. It is a very poor decision to remove your eyes from the road onto a mobile device while driving.

The ban imposed by the FMCSA on texting and driving by truck drivers applies during the time period in which a truck driver is actively driving the vehicle. The FMCSA also now extends the ban to using a mobile phone to place calls while driving. Drivers are now required to use a hands-free system to initiate or answer calls. Simply put, truck drivers are not permitted to manipulate a cell phone while the vehicle is operating.

Penalties for Violating the FMCSA Rules

Truck drivers and/or commercial trucking companies that violate the ban on texting and driving, or the ban on using a handheld mobile phone while driving, may be subject to the following penalties imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the FMCSA.

  • Maximum federal civil penalty of $2,750 per offense
  • Loss of privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle after multiple offenses
  • State suspension of CDL license after two or more serious violations
  • Maximum penalty of $11,000 imposed upon commercial truck and bus companies for a violation

However, dispatching units, fleet management systems, and smartphones are permitted, provided their use does not fall under the definition of texting as described above.

Contact Our Experienced Houston Truck Accident Lawyers

Our highly skilled Houston truck accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. offer compassionate, yet aggressive representation to help you obtain the compensation you may be entitled to in the wake of the trucking accident injuries you have suffered. We understand the applicable personal injury laws in your case inside and out and will do what is necessary to ensure your case is handled in a professional manner to achieve the best possible results for you.

Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to request a free case evaluation.