Proposed Federal Regulations Would Curb Mobile Phone Use by Commercial Drivers

In a recently released proposal, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has taken steps to curtail the rampant behind-the-wheel use of mobile electronic devices by commercial truck and bus drivers. The regulations - if passed - will not only outright prohibit the use of handheld mobile phones, but also the holding, reaching for or dialing of a phone (even a hands-free one) while the vehicle is moving.

This proposal comes after a long period of suggestions and comments running the gamut from a full ban on use of mobile phones to giving drivers free reign to use electronic gadgets at their discretion.

These proposed regulations were issued by the FMCSA, but were informed by advice given by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. The agencies agreed on one thing - some action was needed. Even though simply talking on a cell phone has not definitively been shown to be a significant cognitive distraction, anything taking the driver's eyes off the road - like dialing, texting, holding a slippery phone or reaching for a dropped device - can result in a loss of vehicle control and a potentially deadly accident.

Since this regulation has not yet been approved, it is not being practiced by commercial drivers around the country, so there isn't yet any idea of what impact it could have on the safety of the drivers themselves and fellow motorists. One thing is for sure, though. The dangers inherent in operating a cell phone or other electronic gadget behind the wheel are real, and the hazard is magnified when the operator is in control of an already unwieldy vehicle that is difficult to operate under the best of conditions. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver - whether the driver was behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle or a passenger one - contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.