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Truckers on cell phones

Truckers on cell phones.

Professional truck drivers while driving a big rig are statutorily precluded from using a mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle under certain conditions. The mobile telephone rule went into effect January 3, 2012.

Despite its implementation in an effort to protect communities, truck drivers continue to violate the rules that apply to mobile telephone use while driving a semi truck and it leads to many unnecessary accidents.

Can truckers use a cell phone while driving?


Many people are unaware that truck drivers can use a mobile telephone provided they are using a hands-free device or a wireless earpiece. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,hands-free use of a cellular telephone is allowed with such hands-free devices.

The mobile telephone rule only applies when the trucker is driving a commercial motor vehicle. And the rules prohibiting cell phone use apply to both interstate and intrastate truck drivers.

So what exactly is prohibited under the rules?

A truck driver operating a commercial motor vehicle is prohibited from dialing a telephone number while operating his semi truck. Nevertheless, a truck driver can utilize a speed dial one-touch button to initiate or answer a call.

A truck driver who looks at his telephone screen 4 or 5 seconds can be driving the length of a football field operating a rig that weighs 80,000 pounds. For this reason, the fines for violating the rule can be substantial and can even result in a loss of a commercial drivers license for repeat offenders. Trucking companies or motor carriers can be fined up to $11,000 per offense.

In a recent truck accident, the police allege that the driver who caused the accident was on Facebook on his smartphone at the time of the crash. It is this type of behavior that the rules were intended to prohibit in order to protect the truck driver and other motorists.

Some reports have indicated that highway fatal accidents have risen in recent years in part due to the popularity of smartphones and the use of them at the time of the crash.

A DOT study found that a person is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or almost involved in the crash while texting. And six times more likely to be involved in a crash or near collision while dialing a telephone. The same concept applies to passenger cars and every day drivers, but many states have not taken big steps to address the issue, Texas is one of those states.

In essence, the new rules were intended to emphasize that truck drivers must keep their eyes on the road and not on a smartphone. This is an important rule to help reduce the number of truck racks throughout our country. Unfortunately, truck drivers often believe that they are not going to be caught violating the rules and many disregard the rule.

Often the cell phone use is only discovered after a serious truck crash. Safe transportation and the safe carrying of goods so vital to our nation can be accomplished without truck drivers needing to take their eyes off the road to deal with their smart phone.

It is unfortunate that the state of Texas has decided not to legislate similar bans on cell phone use while driving. The state legislature approved a statute last year but our governor chose not to sign the measure into law.

Let us hope that the new governor for the state of Texas will be more safety oriented and sign a measure into law to protect Texas families.

About Greg Baumgartner

Truck accident lawyer Greg Baumgartner
Greg Baumgartner is a preeminent rated personal injury lawyer based in Houston, Texas, with over three decades of experience representing severely injured clients in truck accidents. He founded Baumgartner Law Firm, in 1985, with a mission to provide excellent legal representation and personalized attention to every client.