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Cell phone use restricted for many commercial drivers

Any distracted driver on Tampa's roads and nearby highways is a danger to other motorists. After all, a lot can happen even during those two seconds a driver takes to make that one phone call or send that one text, and if the driver misses something, they can cause a serious accident for which they are responsible.

Distracted driving is particularly concerning when it comes to commercial drivers. After all, commercial vehicles are much bigger than ordinary cars and thus take longer to stop. Moreover, when they do hit something, they are capable of causing immense damage and serious injuries to those in other vehicles.

Perhaps because it is such concerning behavior, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which makes rules for many commercial drivers who travel in Florida, has issued regulations which sharply restrict any cell phone use while a driver is operating his or her vehicle. These rules are in addition to state "texting and driving" laws and in some cases are more stringent.

Under the federal rules, a driver may not be holding a phone while driving at all, even if it is just to make a call and not to text or search the internet. Moreover, a driver is not allowed to reach for or otherwise have to mess with the phone in order to make a call. Basically, anything the driver wants to do, he or she must be able to do with the touch of a single button.

These rules are meant to cut down on distracted driving by requiring drivers to use hands-free equipment if they need to make phone calls, thereby better ensuring that they will keep both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.

If a driver breaks these rules, then he or she can face fines and, in serious cases, can also lose the privilege to operate a commercial vehicle. If the negligent driver's behavior also caused an accident, the driver and his or her employer can be held financially liable.

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