The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has closed some loopholes with its newly issued final rule that bans texting by commercial motor vehicle drivers who operate across state lines. The FMCSA's rule bans texting by truckers, but it goes farther than that. Trucking companies can no longer allow or require truckers to text while driving.
The rule also has some teeth: along with banning texting by CMV drivers, any trucker convicted under a state law or city ordinance of texting while driving will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a certain amount of time, with increasing disqualification periods for subsequent texting offense. The rule also applies to school bus drivers. Civil penalties are also sanctioned by the rule.
Currently, only 30 states have laws on the books that address texting while driving, thus the new rule expands a trucker texting ban to all 50 states, regardless of state or local law, as long as the trucker is operating across state lines.
Other Proposed Rules on Truckers' Use of Cell Phones and GPS
The trucker texting ban, which became effective October 27, 2010, does not address cell phone use by truckers or operation of other types of devices. The FMCSA does have other rules under consideration that may address cell phone and GPS use. The agency may also issue rules on cell phones used by those who operate hazmat vehicles, even if they do not cross state lines.
The FMCSA took action to issue this rule citing a study it commissioned in which a CMV driver who texts while driving is 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a "safety critical event" such as crossing into another lane, have a near-miss or a trucking accident.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a trucking accident, you need immediate help from an experienced trucking accident lawyer. Discovery of the trucker's cell phone records and other logs must happen quickly to preserve valuable evidence of trucker negligence including texting will operating a commercial motor vehicle.