New Federal Law Bans Cell Phones for Commercial Drivers

Driving next to an 18-wheeler down the road can be an intimidating experience. The massive size and hulking weight of the vehicle makes even the biggest SUV seem small and powerless. Imagine what could happen if the driver of the truck was on his or her cell phone and not paying attention to the road. Fortunately, a recent federal law designed to guard against such a scenario went into effect earlier this year.

The new law prohibits drivers of commercial vehicles from using handheld cell phones while driving. The new law applies to all commercial vehicles-vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds and crosses state lines for business purposes or any other vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds. The law affects around 4 million bus and truck drivers-everybody from major companies to small businesses like bakeries, dry cleaners and florists.

The law was partly in response to research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to the research, drivers of commercial vehicles are three times more likely to be involved in a truck crash if they are reaching for a cell phone or similar object. That accident risk increases to six times more likely if the drivers are dialing.

The new rule carries stiff penalties for drivers and companies who violate the law. For each offense, drivers will face a civil penalty of up to $2,750. If a driver commits multiple offenses, he or she can lose their commercial operator's license. Specifically, drivers who commit two serious violations within a three-year period will lose their driving privileges for at least 60 days. With three or more violations in three years, the license is suspended for 120 days.

Drivers are not the only people subject to penalties under the new law. Companies that require or allow their drivers to use hand-held phones while driving may be fined up to $11,000.

Consult an Attorney

Distracted driving, whether caused by cell phones, texting or other mobile devices, has become an increasingly common factor in motor vehicle accidents. Despite many studies showing the dangers-one in particular, demonstrating that drivers who use cell phones are as impaired as drunk drivers-it seems that the public is willing to take the risk.

If you have been injured by a distracted commercial vehicle driver, you may be entitled to damages including medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering. An attorney experienced with motor vehicle accidents can investigate the circumstances around your accident, advise you of your rights and pursue all due compensation on your behalf.