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FMCSA: Don’t Hold The Phone Rule allows only hands-free devices for CMV drivers

BY STEVE BRAWNER ContributingWriter

Trucking companies can face fines

up to $11,000 per offense if their drivers violate a new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule prohibiting the use of a hand-held cell phone while operating a vehicle, even if the company has a policy prohibiting that activity. Under the rule, commercial motor carriers

are prohibited from allowing or requiring their drivers to use hand-held devices. They are not required to create written policies or training programs. The rule, which was announced Nov. 23

and went into effect Jan. 3, affects about four million commercial drivers. In a press release announcing the rule,

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro was quoted saying, “This final rule represents a giant leap for safety. It’s just too dangerous for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle. Drivers must keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and head in the game when operating on our roads. Lives are at stake.” The American Trucking Associations

supports the regulation but made the argument during the rule-making process that motor carriers should not be punished if they make a good faith effort to prevent the behavior. Sean McNally, vice president of

communications and press secretary for the American Trucking Associations, said, “No rule is perfect. We have some concerns with the severity of the penalties, particularly in the realm of employer responsibility. We’re a little concerned that the carrier can be impacted by the behavior of a single driver, even if the carrier has taken reasonable steps to prevent the use of a hand-held cell phone. If the carrier has a policy against it, there’s only so much they can do in terms of being in the

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