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Federal Safety Rules Aimed at Distracted Driving by Truckers

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the entity responsible for promoting the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMV's) and reducing the number and severity of crashes. In 2009 the FMCSA released crash data that showed that 4808 highway fatalities involved large trucks. These numbers, although lower than previous years, remain high due to the factor of distracted driving among CMV drivers.

Restrictions were introduced jointly by the FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in 2010. The new set of rules was designed specifically to prohibit the use of hand held mobile devices for talking and texting by interstate truck and bus drivers and those drivers responsible for the transportation of hazardous materials. The goal of the Department of Transportation, who created the joint rules, was to reduce the number of accidents related to CMVs and distracted drivers. Fines and/or driver's disqualifications face drivers who violate the rules, which could adversely affect a motor carriers and/or drivers Safety Management System results.

The Details of the Rule

Prohibited by the rule are the manual entry of alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device. This encompasses short message service, emails, instant messaging, a command or request to access a web page, pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a mobile phone voice communication. It also includes engaging in any form of electronic text retrieval or entry, for present or future communication. In simpler words, the rule prohibits unsafely reaching for a device, holding a mobile phone while listening or speaking or pressing multiple buttons while driving.

Phones may be used by drivers if they are placed in an operable positon while the driver is still securely restrained by safety belts; a speaker or earpiece is used and voice activated or one-button touch features are used to initiate, answer or terminate a call.

Statistics Regarding Safety Critical Events and CMV Drivers

The term "safety critical event" was used by the FMCSA to describe when a risk was caused by a distracted driver. These events include crashes, near crashes, less severe crash-relevant conflicts as well as unintentional lane deviations.

· 81% of 4,452 identified safety-critical events showed some form of driver distraction as a potential contributing factor.

· The odds of a CMV driver becoming involved in an accident are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who are texting.

· The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event for CMV drivers, who dial a mobile phone while driving, are six times greater than those who do not.

· A driver who texts for an average of 4.6 seconds at 55 mph, travels the length of a football field with his eyes off the road.

The Penalties for Violating the Rules

Drivers who violate the rules are met with imposed sanctions, including civil penalties up to $2,750 and driver disqualification for multiple offenses. A motor carrier may be subject to civil penalties of up to $11,000 if found to require employees to answer calls or messages while driving.

If you or a loved one was injured, or you lost someone, as the result of a crash involving a large commercial vehicle, you should contact a qualified truck accident attorney to represent you. The motor carriers are represented by experienced law firms whose sole purpose is to keep the accident injury awards as low as possible. They have years of experience litigating truck accidents and do not capitulate without a hard fight. You need a lawyer that can gather all the facts from witnesses, police reports, driving records and even cell phone records. When you are injured or a loved one was lost, the party at fault should pay you what you deserve for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering or wrongful death. Only an experienced truck accident attorney with a winning record is qualified to represent you.

Vititoe Law Group has won countless, substantial, cash compensation for victims of commercial motor vehicle crashes. Call today for a free consultation.

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