Texting and Driving Laws for Truck Drivers

If drivers of standard passenger vehicles increase their risk of causing a serious accident by reading and sending text messages, imagine the devastation that could happen if a semi-truck driver did the same thing and caused a truck crash.

While states may or may not have laws regulating texting and driving, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees the trucking industry, has established texting and driving laws for truck drivers. These laws prohibit anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle from using, holding, or reaching for a hand-held mobile device. This includes using the device for:

  • Sending texts;
  • Answering emails;
  • Instant messaging;
  • Making phone calls;
  • Using the internet; and
  • Any other form of electronic communication.

The FMCSA texting ban not only applies when the truck is moving, but also when a driver stops at a stop sign, red light, or train crossing. It even applies to moments when the driver is waiting for congested traffic to move ahead and other instances when they stop temporarily. The only exception to the ban is when a truck driver must call police because of an emergency.

The FMCSA’s Reasons for Banning Texting While Driving

According to the FMCSA, using a hand-held device to text is risky because it distracts the truck driver and requires them to take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this equates to driving 371 feet without looking at the road. That is the approximate length of a football field, including the end zones.

Truck Drivers Can Use a Hands-Free Device

Truck drivers can use a close and easily accessible hands-free device that requires pushing no more than one button for making, answering, or ending a phone call. Truckers can also use the device’s speaker function, voice activation, or an earpiece.

Otherwise, drivers have to wait to use hand-held mobile devices until after they have pulled their trucks safely off the road and stopped in a location where the truck remains stationary, with or without the engine running.

Penalties for Violating Federal Texting and Driving Ban

FMCSA has established serious penalties for violating the texting while driving ban:

  • Truckers caught texting and driving face a penalty of up to $2,750;
  • Employers that require or allow truckers to text and drive face a fine up to $11,000;
  • Numerous convictions for texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle can result in driver disqualification by FMCSA; and
  • Multiple violations of any state law prohibiting texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle could result in a disqualification for up to 120 days. 

According to the FMCSA, violations of this ban can negatively impact Safety Measurement System (SMS) results, which record the safety performance of trucking companies and drivers. Additionally, an FMCSA study found that the risk of an accident or a near crash is 23.2 times higher for truckers who text and drive compared to those who do not.

Filing a Claim When Injured in a Crash Involving a Distracted Truck Driver

When a commercial truck driver causes a crash because of texting while driving, accident victims can file an injury claim to recover compensation for their damages. Unfortunately, truck accidents tend to cause serious injuries. That means accident victims often require compensation for such damages as:

  • Medical bills;
  • Lost earnings;
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • Mental anguish.

To ensure full compensation for all of these losses, injured victims or surviving family members should consider speaking with a lawyer.

The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. Can Help You

Attorney Jason R. Schultz knows the specifics of texting and driving laws for both passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. Through an investigation of your accident, he can determine if the driver violated federal texting and driving laws and if texting was a factor in the accident. He will also explain the options available to you if you suffered injuries or your loved one died in a fatal truck crash.

Contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. at 404-474-0804 today to learn more about your rights. We vigorously defend our clients in auto accident cases. We are small enough to care and experienced enough to win.