Distractions while driving is a problem for all drivers, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed the hands-free ruling banning cell phone use by CMV drivers. So, what does this mean, and more importantly, how does it affect owner operator drivers?
The new hands-free ruling restricts CMV drivers from:
- Holding a mobile phone to conduct a voice communication.
- Dialing by pressing more than one button.
- Reaching in an unsafe manner (such as under the seats) for a mobile phone.
Anyone who violates this hands-free ruling could be fined up to $2,750, and, if you are a truck driver, your motor carrier could face a fine up to $11,000. There’s also the possibility of driver disqualification and license revocation. So, here’s the bottom line: this is a serious ruling that’s going to be enforced.
This hands-free ruling is designed to help reduce the distraction that happens when drivers are reaching for or dialing on their cell phone. Research has shown that using a cell phone while driving is actually more distracting than eating or adjusting an instrument in your cab. And, since more and more fatalities are attributed to distractions while driving, this is one way to hopefully keep the roads safer.
Now, it’s unrealistic to think that truck drivers aren’t going to communicate with other drivers and their carriers. That’s why this hands-free ruling has certain devices that are exempt, and that owner operator drivers can still use. What are some of the things you can use instead of your cell phone?
- CB Radios
- GPS Devices
- SYNC or Bluetooth Devices
- Fleet Management Systems
As CMV owner operator drivers, we have to keep a lot of things at top priority: safety, time, communication, and reliability. The good news is, with technology and other helpful tools we can help keep ourselves productive and safe on the road. So, while it might seem at first like this new hands-free ruling is going to be a giant pain, there are actually some pretty easy ways to get around the rule while keeping communication intact.
For more truck driver safety tips and information on truck driving regulations, or if you’re interested in becoming an owner operator driver with Greatwide, be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn. Then, check out what other truckers are discussing on our Facebook and follow our Twitter page.