Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cell Phone Use by Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles


On December 2, 2011 the US Department of Transportation released a final rule regarding Cell Phone
(Mobile Communications Device) by drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Pipeline and Hazardous
Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FCMSA).

This is a final rule in effect on January 3, 2012, which effectively prohibits the use of a cell phone for communications, either by voice or texting, while the driver is underway. The rules
may be viewed at 49 CFR Part 177 and 383.

This rule will apply to all drivers of commercial vehicles; trucks, busses and any vehicle that requires a
Commercial Driver’s License while on a public highway. Specifically, the rule requires that anyone
convicted the second time in 3 years of violating a State rule regarding the use of a hand held cell phone
be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 60 days and if convicted the third time in 3 years,
disqualified for 120 days. It also states that no employer may require the use of a hand held
communications device while operating a motor vehicle. The definition of driving, for the purposes of this
regulation, means the Commercial Vehicle is on the highway, even if stopped at a traffic control device or
stuck in traffic. To use a cell phone or mobile device, the vehicle must be off the highway and stopped.
Push-to-talk phone use is also prohibited.

The use of a radio with a push to talk microphone, GPS, or traffic management system is not covered by
this rule. If a phone or other mobile communications device is used, it must not require holding in the
driver’s hand and must be actuated by a single push of a single button. The driver must be able to
operate this device while seated and with the seat belt fastened in place.

Exemptions will be allowed for operation of Commercial Motor Vehicles by military and emergency
response personnel, firefighters, farmers and local government personnel engaged in snow and ice
removal operations. There is also a provision allowing for contact with law enforcement personnel by a
driver in the event of an emergency. Information regarding this regulation is contained in the websites
provided below.

Information regarding the Federal Cell Phone Use Policy:
http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/news-releases/2011/Secretary-LaHood-Announces-Step-towards-
Safer-Highways.aspx

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Cell Phone Use Ban:
http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/other/faq/cellphone-ban-faqs.aspx

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