Texting ban in place for commercial drivers

Jill Dunn | October 29, 2010

The federal ban on texting while driving commercial vehicles was official Oct. 21,  adding penalties and sanctions including, for repeat offenders, disqualification from operating vehicles in interstate commerce.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its final rule Sept. 21, which imposes sanctions for drivers of fines up to $2,750 and for carriers an $11,000 maximum penalty.

A texting conviction is now considered a serious traffic violation. Driver violators can be disqualified for 60 days if convicted of two separate violations in three years and 120 days if convicted of three or more violations in three years.

Texting includes a short message service, emailing, instant messaging, a request to access the Internet or any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry.

However, it does not include:
• Reading, selecting or entering a telephone or extension number, or
voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device to make or receive a phone call or using voice commands to initiate or receive a phone call.

• Inputting, selecting, or reading a global positioning system or
navigation system.

• Using fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, CBs or music players.

The agency is considering other distracted driving rules.

The White House Office of Management and Budget received its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to restrict cell phone use while operating commercial vehicles Sept. 16. Its current publication deadline is listed as Dec. 26. 

The FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are considering restricting use of electronic devices for hazmat drivers, including intrastate. An Advance Notices of proposed rulemaking was scheduled for Oct. 25.

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