DOT seeks big rig cell-phone ban

commercial truck with cell phoneThe federal Department of Transportation wants commercial drivers to shut up and drive.

The DOT released a plan Dec. 17 that would ban handheld cell phone use by interstate truckers and bus drivers.

“Every time a commercial truck or bus driver takes his or her eyes off the road to use a cell phone, even for a few seconds, the driver places everyone around them at risk,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This proposed rule will go a long way toward keeping a driver’s full attention focused on the road.”

The DOT cannot tell states how to regulate their roadways — or outright ban electronic distracted driving — but it has authority over safety practices on interstate commercial vehicles. In this case, up to 4 million instate commercial drivers would be affected.

Use of a handheld cell phone while driving will cost a commercial driver up to $2,750 for each offense and possible revocation of their driver’s license (CDL) for repeated offenses. The motor carrier companies could be fined up to $11,000. Use of hands-free accessories would be allowed.

Text messaging already is banned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (as of October).

The proposed FMCSA rule on cell phone use has entered a two-month comment period.

“Implementation of this proposal would help make our roads safer and target a leading cause of distracted driving,” said FMCSA chief Anne Ferro.

A long list of companies already has prohibited its drivers from cell phoning while on the road, the DOT noted, including UPS and Wal-Mart.

The trucking industry has been carefully watching any efforts to limit technology in its big rigs.

“We get that the trucking biz is hard,” DOT chief Ray LaHood said of the texting ban for interstate drivers. “We’re just trying to save lives.”


  1. joe haney says:

    Here is an idea for ya how about putting some of the blame on the 4wheelers put a ban on them plus I can’t count how many times I have seen a cop go down the road on the phone or typing on there cumpter. Stop picking on just us truck drivers we are out here trying to make a living like every body eles.

  2. I see the numbers about how many people die a year from distracted driving quoted in these saftey articles. DOT trying to rationalize why they need to make these laws without giving the real numbers of how few of these accidents are caused by DOT registered trucks as opposed to how many thousands are caused by 4 wheelers.

    These laws affect drivers of trucks big and small, most of which make $10-$15 an hour and cannot afford a big fine or have their license suspended. I dont understand why truckdrivers are held to such a high standard while people that make several times as much money and have more lives in their hands get away with just about anything.

    Me personally, im not paid enough to be a master mechanic, a safe , reliable driver, be responsible for loads that are worth tens of thousands of $$, fill out a log book, keep up with the ever changing laws that can cost me my job ,, get pulled over every other week for a random saftey inspection and on top of that have more and more government regulations pushed on me when im NOT the problem !!!

  3. I drive an 18 wheeler from Pueblo CO to Denver, sometimes 2 trips a day. Fact is in the last year and a half, I have seen 2 trucks wreck, one was to fast in a curve on an exit and the other involved a 4 wheeler. In a normal week I see minimum of 4 wrecks involving only 4 wheelers. To chastize the professional drivers and not the main cause of the accidents (4 wheelers) goes beyond stupid and from looking at the fines it shows the DOT is looking to generate revenue and, based on the fact they say nothing about the 4 wheelers couldn’t care less about safety.

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