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FMCSA rule bans cellphone use by truckers

As people in New York, and elsewhere, are likely aware, sharing the road with large commercial trucks can be dangerous. The risk of being involved in a trucking accident may be increased when truckers are using their cellphones, or are otherwise distracted. Often times, it is the drivers and passengers of other vehicles who are seriously injured or killed in such collisions. In an effort to reduce distraction-related truck crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published rules, which prohibit truck drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving.

Using mobile phones while driving is dangerous for all motorists. This is because doing so often takes a driver’s hands off of the steering wheel, eyes off of the road and attention off of the task of driving. Distraction.gov reports that five seconds is the average time that people take their eyes off the road to send or read a text. If they are traveling 55 mph, then they have covered the length of a football field without looking at the road. For truckers, this can be particularly dangerous because they generally require more space to stop or safely maneuver their vehicles. As such, they may be unable to react to changes in driving conditions or road hazards in time to adjust or avoid them if they are text messaging. Consequently, these distracted truckers may cause collisions that otherwise could have been prevented.

The FMCSA rule restricts the use of hand-held cellphones by commercial motor vehicle, or CMV, drivers. Under the rule, truckers and other commercial drivers are prohibited from dialing their phones by pressing more than one button and from holding mobile devices to make calls. Furthermore, they are also banned from texting while driving. However, the rule does permit CMV drivers to use earpieces, speakerphone functions, voice-activated dialing and other hands-free features.

Using cellphones while driving may be considered negligence on the part of truckers. Consequently, they may be held liable for any damages incurred as a result of distraction-related collisions. As such, those who have suffered injuries in trucking accidents may find it of benefit to consult with an attorney to discuss their rights and options.

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