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ON THE HORIZON THE RULE ALLOWS


DRIVERS TO TOUCH A SINGLE BUTTON ON A HANDS-FREE DEVICE


OR ON THEIR HEADSET, STEERINGWHEEL OR INSTRUMENT PANEL


TO INITIATE, ANSWER OR END A CALL. THE HANDS-FREE DEVICE MUST BEWITHIN


REACH OF THE DRIVER WEARING A SEATBELT. THAT MEANS NO STRETCHING FOR A PHONE ON THE PASSENGER SEAT,


UNDER THE DRIVER’S SEAT OR IN THE SLEEPER BERTH.


Distracted driving was reported in 16 percent of fatal crashes that year. The agency banned text messaging


while operating a commercial truck or bus in September 2010. More than 300 violations have been issued nationwide since that ban went into effect. The PHSMA banned texting and driving by intrastate hazardous materials drivers in February 2011. But the nation’s trucking industry is in the


midst of a safety renaissance. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks plummeted from 5,684 in 1979 to 2,987 in 2009. From 2000 to 2009, they decreased from 2.2 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to fewer than 1.3. The FMCSA received nearly 300 public


comments after publishing its notice of proposed rulemaking on Dec. 21, 2010. Most commenters supported the idea, the agency said, but not all did. Some commenters wanted to ban the use of hands-free mobile telephones as well.


ROADWISE | ISSUE 1, 2012 | www.mttrucking.org 9 On Dec. 13, 2011, the National


Transportation Safety Board recommended the agency ban all cell phone use by commercial drivers. The Owner-Operator Independent


Drivers Association (OOIDA) opposed the ban, arguing that cell phone use is no more distracting than other types of activities such as fleet management devices, collision warning systems and tire pressure alerts. It also pointed out that the punishments for using a hand-held cell phone are worse than other violations such as driving while intoxicated or excessive speeding.


Norita Taylor, OOIDA’s media


spokesperson, said in an interview that the rule is unnecessary because driving while distracted already is unlawful and that owner- operators and independent drivers would be adversely impacted paying the fees and having violations on their records. “I would make anecdotally the argument


that anybody that lives on the road needs communication with the rest of the world,” she said. “Do you really want to put people out on the road and cut them off from talking to people? Really? Professional drivers, that’s what they do.” RW


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