Jeremy Thurman on December 8, 2011
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently passed amendments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR’s) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) in an effort to improve safety on our nation’s highways. The goal of these new regulations is to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving among drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).
Under the new regulations, a CMV driver is restricted from holding a mobile phone to conduct voice communication, dialing a phone by pressing more than a single button, or reaching for a mobile phone in an unacceptable or unsafe manner. A CMV driver may use a compliant mobile phone, such as a hands-free phone, that is located in close proximity to the driver. But the driver must be ready to conduct a conversation on a compliant mobile phone before driving.
If CMV drivers fail to comply with the new restrictions, they will be subject to new driver disqualification sanctions. Also included were new driver disqualification sanctions for drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) who have multiple convictions for violating a state or local law ordinances that restrict the use of hand-held mobile phones. Finally, the new regulations prohibit motor carriers from requiring or allowing drivers of CMVs to use hand-held mobile phones.
Distracted driving is a serious problem on our nation’s roads. According to distracted driving statistics, distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to cause an accident, compared to drunk drivers who are only 7 times more likely to cause one. With this in mind, it is encouraging when laws are passed at the federal and state level to respond to this serious problem.
Also encouraging is that according to the most recent Motor Carrier Safety Progress Report issued by the FMCSA, total fatalities and injuries involving large trucks and buses declined from 2008 to 2009. Recent distracted driving laws almost certainly have had an effect on this trend. But the numbers of fatalities and injuries are still too high. The new regulations should contribute further to the declining trend, help save more lives, and help prevent further injuries.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle, please contact one of our experienced Oklahoma truck accident lawyer. Please stay safe on the roads and avoid distracted driving.