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Truck drivers using cellphones can be held accountable

A previous post on this blog talked about the significant threat distracted driving poses to Marylanders who commute and otherwise travel on this state's roads. This is threat is especially pronounced when a distracted driver is operating a large commercial vehicle.

For one, trucks naturally take longer to stop because of their weight, meaning a distracted truck driver is going to have less time to correct the situation before causing a wreck. For two, when truck accidents do happen, trucks tend to cause a lot more damage to other vehicles; again, this is largely because of their large size, especially when compared to passenger cars.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, regulates a lot of the trucks that travel on Maryland's roads. Realizing the unique dangers distracted driving in a commercial vehicle poses, this agency has for the most part banned truck drivers from using cellphones in a distracting manner while driving.

Specifically, and as is the case in many states, truck drivers are not allowed to text while they drive, and texting includes searching the web or using email. However, drivers must also not use their cellphones to make a traditional phone call either. They may use a handsfree device, so long as the phone call they want to make can be completed with the touch of a single button.

Truckers and their employers can face fines or even the loss of the privilege to transport goods in interstate commerce if they violate this rule. They also can be held accountable if they cause an accident as a result of distracted driving, as breaking the FMCSA's rules regarding cellphone use could be a sign of the truck driver's negligence.

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