DOT Hopes to Stall Trucking Accidents by Banning Cell Phones

In an effort to curb distracted driving-related trucking accidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently finalized a federal ban on hand-held cell phone use by interstate truck and bus drivers.

"When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a release posted on FMCSA.dot.gov. "I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel."

Hopefully the new provision will significantly reduce the number of injuries and lives lost in North Carolina truck accidents.

According to Distraction.gov, distracted driving among commercial drivers came to the attention of the National Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in November 2004, when a bus driver talking on his cell phone caused a serious accident. By 2009, the NHTSA listed distracted driving as a factor in crashes that killed 5,474 people and injured about 500,000. The agency listed distracted driving as the cause of 16 percent of all 2009 traffic fatalities.

Size and Weight of Commercial Vehicles Makes Accidents Particularly Deadly

Before issuing the ruling, research proved that the momentary distraction of reaching for a cell phone tripled the odds of a crash among commercial drivers. Dialing a hand-held cell phone heightened risk even more, making the likelihood of an accident six times higher. Texting while driving is just as dangerous. Given the size, weight and cargo load of a commercial vehicle in relation to a car, the risks to public safety made support of the ban undisputable.

About four million commercial drivers are now covered by the new ruling, according to FMCSA.dot.gov. Violators will face a civil penalty of up to $2,750. Drivers who commit multiple offenses will receive a suspended license and be prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle. Companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held phones will be fined $11,000.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options and pursue a course of action.