The Garda driver’s one moment of misjudgment is alarmingly common. The distraction.gov website estimates that around 660,000 drivers use an electronic device or mobile phone while driving at any single moment of the day throughout the United States. The risks of cellphone use while driving are compounded when the driver is operating a large, heavy commercial vehicle.
Cellphones are wonderful devices. But they come with serious hazards if they are used carelessly while driving. Motorists do not seem to appreciate the dangers of cellphone use. Furthermore, employers expect an immediate response from their employees, and may even pressure them to make and receive calls while driving.
Dialing a number, sending a text or reaching for the phone only takes a few seconds — an average of 3.8 seconds to dial and 4.6 seconds to text, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). This short span of time seems insignificant while sitting still, but at 55 mph, a truck travels beyond the length of a football field with the driver’s eyes on the electronic device instead of on the road.
Federal Cellphone Restrictions for Commercial Drivers
FMCSA rules permit commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to use hands-free cellphones, but prohibit them from:
- Holding the mobile phone to place a call
- Pressing more than one button to dial the phone
- Maneuvering out of the seat to reach for the phone
These federal regulations cover drivers of both large trucks and buses. Texas statutes further forbid both handheld and hands-free cellphone use by bus drivers.
Federal Rules Ban Texting by CMV Drivers
FMCSA rules ban typing texts into or reading messages from an electronic device while driving. The FMCSA defines texting broadly to include:
- Text messaging
- Instant messaging
- Browsing the web
- Retrieving or entering electronic information
In anticipation of the unknown innovations in technology, the rules widely prohibit, “engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry, for present or future communication.”
Drivers and Employers Penalized
Drivers and their employers share the blame for cellphone-related accidents. For this reason, both are subject to penalties if the driver violates the FMCSA texting and cellphone use rules. Drivers face fines of up to $2,750 and disqualification of their commercial license for multiple convictions. Employers may be liable for up to $11,000 for their drivers’ distracted conduct. Motorists injured by noncompliant drivers may also sue the driver and trucking corporation for damages in the Texas civil courts.
Have You Been Injured In a Truck Collision?
Texas personal Injury lawyer Bill Berenson can investigate whether the driver was using an electronic device at the time of the accident. He has helped injury victims throughout the state for more than 34 years. Email us or call 817-885-8000 or toll-free at 1-888-801-8585 to schedule a free consultation. We’ll fight to get you the compensation that you deserve.