The Penalties And Risks Of Distracted Truck Driving
According to the latest regulations by FMCSA, truck drivers are prohibited from using hand-held mobile devices or from texting, while driving a commercial motor vehicle on an interstate highway. The drivers, who are caught doing so, will face disqualification, fines and dismissal from employment. However, the FMCSA regulations don’t include the usage of devices which are part of the company’s dispatch management system.
Commercial drivers, who dial mobile phones, are 6 times more likely to be involved in accidents, and those who text are 23 times more prone to safety critical events. Thus, according to the law, drivers are now strictly prohibited from using any hand held devices. In most cases, FMCSA rules are secondary to the state rules. But as most of the states haven’t devised safety regulations regarding the matter, the FMCSA regulations will be applied by default.
FMCSA has devised these regulations in the interest of the public and to ensure driver safety. In regard to usage of mobile phones, the safety association prohibits holding, reaching, and texting, dialing or reading on the phone. In a separate rule, FMCSA prohibits the driver from leaving the safety of the driving seat while driving, as well as using more than one hand to text or operate a hand held device.
According to FMCSA, texting or using a dispatching device (Qualcomm) is similar to texting on a mobile phone. Therefore, it is prohibited as well. Many corporations and fleet companies are hence, converting their dispatching devices to hands-free versions to increase the safety of the vehicle, driver and the public. Some of them are equipped with the GPS system as well. These innovative devices beep a short message to the driver, until the driver is in a position to read the rest. He can read or respond to the message when the truck is parked or stopped at a traffic signal.
The regulations also define the penalties for distracted truck driving. If a driver is caught breaking any of the above mentioned rules, they can be fined up to $2,750. If they are repeat offenders, the drivers also face the danger of being disqualified or being put out of service for up to 120 days. The penalties don’t just extend to the driver, but also to the fleet company or their employers, who will have to pay up to $11,000. Any such instances can affect the employer’s Safety Measurement System or SMS ratings.
If a driver is involved in 2 traffic violations within a three year period, they can get disqualified for a period of 60 days and three violations can result in the dismissal for 120 days. The driver will also have to pay massive fines to the civil highway authorities. In some cases, if the employer has conducted the necessary safety relation exercises and training workshops and the driver is still involved in a safety critical accident, then the employer has the right to terminate his employment.
Most of the fleet companies have this policy in their contractual agreement, that if a driver is caught while operating or using a hand-held device, he will be dismissed, as the company cannot suffer a civil lawsuit on behalf of the truck driver. Every truck driver is subjected to the FMCSA regulations, even those who drive over the road. However, the safety commission has urged the states to design their own sets of legal safety regulations for commercial vehicle drivers. – See more at: http://truckernews.com/the-penalties-and-risks-of-distracted-truck-driving-p588-90.htm#sthash.qeUS7z7F.dpuf