Rule Would Set Stiff Penalties on Drivers, Carriers
The Department of Transportation Friday proposed banning interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial motor vehicle, and sets stiff fines for violators.
Drivers could face fines of up to $2,750 per violation â€” and loss of their commercial driverâ€™s license for multiple offenses â€” while carriersâ€™ fines could be as high as $11,000, DOT said.
The proposal would affect about 4 million drivers, DOT said, adding that the proposal is part of its campaign to end distracted driving.
â€œEvery 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,â€� said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has consistently spoken out against distracted driving practices.
â€œThis proposed rule will go a long way toward keeping a driverâ€™s full attention focused on the road,â€� he said in statement.
The proposed rule, to be released by DOTâ€™s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would prohibit commercial drivers from reaching for, holding or dialing a cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle.
Drivers who violate these restrictions would face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and could face disqualification of their commercial driverâ€™s license for multiple offenses.
States could also suspend CDLs after two or more violations of any state law on hand-held cell phone use, DOT said.
Motor carriers that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving would face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
FMCSA will allow 60 days for public comments on the rule, once it is published in the Federal Register, though it did not say when that would be.
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