Truck driver using cell phone while driving

Hang Up Or Pay Up

As we discussed in our previous blog, Missouri semi wrecks are on the rise. Due to their foreboding size and weight, semi trucks and tractor trailers can cause severe injuries and death. In May of 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made it illegal for commercial drivers to operate hand-held mobile devices while operating a vehicle.

Research conducted by the FMCSA showed the likelihood of being involved in a safety-critical event, such as a crash, near-crash, or unintentional lane deviation, six times greater for drivers who actively engage in dialing a phone as opposed to those who do not. If a driver diverts attention from the road for a short period of 3.8 seconds while traveling 55 m.p.h., they can cover a distance of 306 feet or the approximate length of a football field.

The FMCSA defines the use of a hand-held mobile device as using at least one hand to hold a mobile phone, pressing more than one button on a mobile device, or reaching for a mobile device in a manner causing the driver to change position out of the seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.

By semi drivers, violations may lead to disqualification by the FRMCSA and penalties of up to $2,750 for drivers and $11,000 for employers requiring drivers to use hand-hand communication devices. These offenses typically violate multiple State laws, resulting in serious traffic infractions, which can eventually result in the suspension and disqualification for a state-issued commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Not only do these guidelines relate to commercial vehicles in motion, but also those vehicles which are moving forward or temporarily stationary due to traffic, traffic control devices, or other momentary delays. A mounted phone is an acceptable option as long as it is placed close to the driver. Violations of these rules negatively impact SMS (Motor Carrier Safety Measurement System) results and carry maximum severity weight.

In order for semi operators and other commercial drivers to comply with these rules, they must:

  • Make sure the mobile device is close enough to allow for the proper operation and restraint by truck safety devices;
  • Use an earpiece or speakerphone function;
  • Use voice-activated dialing;
  • Use any hands-free options; and
  • Be able to initiate, answer, and terminate calls by touching a single button;

A driver is not in compliance if they unsafely reach for a mobile device, even if they intend to use it hands-free.

Violations resulting in a collision reflect a driver’s negligence and careless operation of their vehicle.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a semi truck wreck caused by the negligent driving of a commercial driver, do not delay, contact Kendall Law Group today to speak with an experienced attorney who truly cares about your unique situation and will work diligently to secure the most favorable outcome.

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