Source: National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.
In a recently issued final rule, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration greatly restricts commercial vehicle drivers’ use of hand-held mobile phones, and exposes a) violators to maximum $2,750 fines and/or commercial driver’s license disqualification; and, b) vehicle-owning employers to maximum fines of $11,000 per violation.
“A motor carrier should have policies or practices that make clear [the company] does not allow or require hand-held mobile phone use while driving,” the rule notes, adding that carriers are responsible for drivers’ actions.
The rule is effective January 3 for interstate commerce, or subject to state implementation between then and 2015. Specific to mixer fleets, NRMCA Operations and Government Affairs staff notes, it prohibits, for voice or text communications, hand-held use of a cellular phone while driving a truck, whether in transit or “temporarily” stationary due to traffic control or other momentary delays. Drivers under these circumstances are permitted to use phones to “communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services.” Also in driving mode, the rule prohibits use of cellular phones’ push-to-talk function in lieu of a two-way radio, and to record odometer readings.
In the final rule, FMCSA allows hand-held use of a cellular phone in an idling, parked or otherwise stationary mixer truck that is not on a roadway; use of two-way radios and walkie-talkies; hands-free devices or use of cellular phones’ speaker function while operating a mixer truck; and, single-button touching on a cellular phone to initiate, answer or terminate a call (i.e. voice activation, speed dialing, voice dialing, voice to text features).