Trucking Businesses Struggle To Develop Effective Distracted Driving Policies

Many businesses are aware of the risks posed by their drivers having an accident. A recent change to federal rules governing commercial drivers has increased that risk. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new regulation, which became effective on Jan. 3, banning commercial truck drivers from using handheld cell phones. The regulations define a commercial vehicle as:

  • Over 10,000 lbs that crosses state lines
  • Any vehicle over 26,000 lbs

New Distracted Driving Policies Many commercial trucking companies have to look at their operations and develop workable solutions to ensure they comply with the new federal regulations. Cell phones allow dispatchers and anyone else instant contact with a big rig driver. Habits like these are hard to change, but some businesses have adopted very clear, straightforward policies. Some now require that no driver use a hand-held cell phone, text, or even a CB radio while their 18-wheeler is in motion. The driver must stop and safely park the truck to make or receive a call. Failure to Comply with Federal Regulations Businesses have a strong incentive to maintain compliance with the new rules, as the penalties are significant. A big rig driver can be fined $2,750 for each violation, and lose their commercial driver’s license (CDL) for multiple violations. The company can also be fined up to $11,000 for permitting 18-wheeler drivers to use hand-held cell phones. Additionally, the company could be found liable for damages and injuries caused by distracted drivers in the event of a commercial vehicle accident. The rules are designed to help improve commercial driver safety, and reduce truck collisions and other related accidents. Large trucks, by their very size and numbers, are dangerous and the Department of Transportation has made a substantial effort to reduce distracted driving by commercial drivers. Source: The Tennessean, “Companies tackle risks of distracted driving,” Larry Copeland, 04/14/2012.