Pictured are two people riding in a vehicle, while the driver is looking at his phone.

New Restrictions for Commercial Truck Drivers

The Penalty for Cell Phone Use Behind the Wheel

That next phone call from behind the wheel of a commercial truck could be a costly one as a new federal ban on cellphone use by truckers goes into effect on Jan. 3.

“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,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement announcing the new rule. “I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel.”

The fine for being caught using a handheld phone while operating a truck or bus could be as high as $2,750 and a commercial truck driver could lose their license with a repeat offense. However, as commercial truck companies face steeper penalties for drivers that violate driving laws, a first offense could put your job at risk.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a trucking company could be fined over $10,000 for one of its drivers being cited for driving while talking on the phone.

“This final rule represents a giant leap for safety,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in the statement. “It’s just too dangerous for drivers to use a handheld cellphone while operating a commercial vehicle.”

Trucking officials have praised the new ban because it should reduce the number of accidents on the road, making all motorists safer. However, using a phone is one type of distraction and trucking officials are still urging commercial truck drivers to stay alert behind the wheel to reduce distracted driving in all its forms.