What are the federal cell phone restrictions for truck drivers?

Woman truck driver talking on the phone

Federal regulations hold truck drivers to a higher standard than regular passenger vehicle drivers. Along with more training, licensing, and special rules for the duration of each trip they take, there are also quite a few cell phone restrictions for truck drivers.

Truck Driver Texting and Cell Phone Rules

A truck driver cannot perform any of the following actions while actively operating his vehicle:

  • Sending or reading a text message (SMS, emails, etc.)
  • Holding the phone to his ear to make a call
  • Pressing multiple buttons on a phone to execute a command
  • Reaching for a phone in a manner that requires shifting from a seated driving position or removing your seatbelt

The only activity a driver may engage in with their cell phone is to use one-touch dialing to place a call. Once he has placed the call, the driver must use an earpiece or another hands-free device to complete it.

The Consequences of Truck Driver Texting and Driving

Breaking any of the above rules can result in thousands of dollars in fines ($150 fine for being stopped in New York, $2,750 in fines from FMCSA) and the driver facing disqualification from holding his license. But the real consequences are the lives lost in accidents caused by a distracted truck driver.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted research that found a truck driver dialing a phone while driving at 55 miles per hour travels approximately 300 feet — all without looking at the road.

Even though distracted truck drivers are at a six times greater risk of causing a crash due to cell phone use, reports FMCSA, drivers still break these rules.

In 2014, ABC News launched an investigation into the frequency of truck drivers using cell phones. Driver cab videos showed several drivers texting, dialing, and making calls by hand.

According to the Department of Transportation, 16,000 truckers received tickets for cell phone use in 2013.

Your Right to Seek Compensation after a Truck Accident Caused by a Texting Driver

While a texting driver may face federal penalties, you also have the right to file charges against the driver and his company for the accident. In your claim, you can seek damages such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Long-term or permanent disability
  • Medical expenses

If a trucking company employed the truck driver, the company would be liable for an accident caused by its employee. If the truck driver is self-employed, he would be solely liable for your damages.

To file a truck accident claim for damages and prove the driver was distracted by a cell phone at the time of the crash, you will need special evidence. An eyewitness that saw the driver using his phone can provide testimony to support your claim. You may also need to get the cell phone carrier’s records to identify if the driver was sending messages before the crash.

This evidence is difficult to come by for the average person. Let the Goldstein & Bashner legal team help you file and settle your injury claim. Contact us at 516-222-4000 to schedule a free consultation.

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