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FMCSA regulations are strict on trucker cellphone use

As a driver, you are probably aware of laws pertaining to cellphone use in passenger cars, but are there different rules for truckers?

If the big rig in front of you begins weaving a little, has the driver taken his or her attention off the road to call a spouse or text a buddy?

Why truck crashes happen

Many reasons exist for truck crashes. While most commercial drivers are well-trained and conscientious, accidents will happen. The truck might have an equipment failure. Cargo might shift because of overloading. The driver might not account for the driving conditions bad weather brings or might be too fatigued to drive properly. On the other hand, a truck driver might not pay attention to the road because of cellphone distraction.

Taking up the issue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued new rules concerning truck drivers and mobile devices. One rule speaks to the FMCSA definition of mobile-phone use. For example, it refers to the need for a driver to use at least one hand to hold the mobile phone in order to make a call. This is not acceptable to the FMCSA, nor is dialing by having to press multiple buttons instead of only one. Furthermore, a driver should not reach for a mobile device in such a way that affects proper seating with the seat belt fastened while the truck is underway.

Texting rules

In the FMCSA regulations, texting refers to “manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.” Either activity would require the driver to break the one-button rule.

Hands-free only

These new rules state that only hands-free use is acceptable, and the device must be positioned near the driver. Hands-free normally involves using an earpiece/speaker phone combination, giving the driver the ability to continue watching the road. Additionally, activating the device would only require pressing a single button. Although the FMCSA mobile-device rules are rigid, drivers who adhere to them are able to reduce their chances of having a potentially devastating crash.

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