The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency that establishes rules and regulations for buses and large trucks that are aimed in large part at protecting public safety across the country, including Florida. FMCSA’s enforcement efforts are being redoubled in view of recent statistics that showed 3,514 people were killed in vehicular accidents involving large trucks in 2012. The agency has determined that too many of these crashes were caused by inattentive truck drivers.
Distracted driving is a great concern among federal and state transportation authorities as well as motorists. Distractions can take drivers’ attention from the road and cause them to miss seeing other motorists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. According to the FMCSA, cellphone use is the leading cause of distraction-related truck accidents. For this reason, the agency together with the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration published rules this year that forbid interstate bus and truck drivers from using cellphones while operating their vehicles. The rules apply to all commercial vehicle drivers, but truck drivers who transport hazardous materials and goods are of particular concern.
The prohibition on texting while driving means that a commercial vehicle driver cannot use any form of electronic device while behind the wheel. The rule holds that all forms of electronic messaging, emailing, instant messaging, web surfing and any kind of electronic text entry or retrieval, are prohibited.
Any violation is subject to a fine, which can be as high as $2,750. Drivers can lose their licenses for multiple offenses. A truck company that requires its drivers to use cellphones while driving can also face as much as $11,000 in fines. In the event of a truck accident that directly results from a driver texting while driving, both the trucking company and the driver may be held accountable for the victim’s damages.
Source: FMCSA, “Distracted Driving,” accessed on Oct. 8, 2014