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Understanding the Legality of Cell Phone Use for Truckers

Cell phone use by Truckers

In today’s digital age, the use of cell phones has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, strict regulations are in place to ensure road safety for professional drivers, such as truckers. Understanding the legality of cell phone use for truckers is crucial for drivers and fleet managers.


Regulatory Framework: Navigating the Laws


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) governs the use of cell phones by commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, including truckers. According to FMCSA regulations, truckers are prohibited from using hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles. This restriction includes holding a phone to make calls, text, or perform any other function that requires manual manipulation of the device.


Definition of Using a Mobile Phone Per FMCSA


The use of a hand-held mobile telephone means:

  • Using at least one hand to hold a mobile phone to make a call;
  • Dialing a mobile phone by pressing more than a single button; or
  • Reaching for a mobile phone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.


Texas Law Prohibits Cell Phone Use by All Drivers in Some Circumstances


  • In school zones
  • Texting or email


Reading, writing, or sending electronic messages while operating a vehicle in Texas is prohibited unless stopped.


Affirmative defenses in Texas include hands-free use, using GPS or navigation systems, reporting illegal activity emergencies, or entering information regarding road conditions in certain apps.


Hands-Free Devices: Finding a Safe Solution


While hand-held devices are off-limits for truckers on the road, using hands-free technology is permitted. Hands-free devices such as Bluetooth headsets or speakerphones allow truckers to stay connected without compromising safety. However, it’s important to note that even with hands-free devices, truckers must exercise caution and ensure their attention remains focused on the road.


Exceptions to the Rule: Emergency Situations


Truckers may be allowed to use cell phones while driving in certain emergencies. For example, if there is an immediate threat to personal safety or the safety of others on the road, truckers are permitted to use their phones to call for assistance. However, it’s essential for drivers to use discretion and only use their phones when necessary in such situations.


Enforcement and Penalties: Upholding Compliance

Penalties for Texting While Driving

The FMCSA takes violations of cell phone regulations seriously and enforces strict penalties for non-compliance. Truckers caught using hand-held devices while driving may face fines and other disciplinary actions. Additionally, fleet managers are responsible for ensuring drivers are aware of and adhere to cell phone regulations to avoid legal consequences.


Commercial truckers’ fines can be up to $2,750 for drivers and $11,000 for Motor Carriers who permit or require drivers to use handheld communications while driving.


Best Practices: Promoting Safety and Compliance


Trucking companies should implement comprehensive policies and training programs for drivers to ensure compliance with cell phone regulations and prioritize road safety. Safety includes educating drivers on the legalities of cell phone use, providing guidance on the proper use of hands-free devices, educating them about distracted driving, and reinforcing the importance of staying focused while driving.


Proving Illegal Cell Phone Use After an Accident


Proving prohibited cell phone use during an accident can be challenging. Investigating officers rarely find out about the truck driver’s cell use at the crash scene. The evidence can usually be reviewed only after a lawsuit is filed and the mobile carrier records are obtained. Cell records are also useful for cross-checking the truck driver’s logbooks.




Understanding the legality of cell phone use for truckers is essential for promoting safety and compliance within the trucking industry. By adhering to FMCSA regulations, responsibly utilizing hands-free technology, and implementing best practices for driver education and training, trucking companies can play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of their drivers and the public on our nation’s highways.


Injured in an Accident with a Big Rig? Call the Truck Accident Lawyer for Help


If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, call the truck accident lawyer in Texas for help.


(281) 893-0760


Related Resources:

The Dangers of Cell Phone Use While Driving

Truckers on cell phones

No Texting Rules for Truckers

The Significance of Truck Drivers’ Logbooks in Truck Accident Lawsuits

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.