When police are called to the scene of an accident, one of the things that will be investigated immediately is whether state/local traffic laws have been broken. If the collision involves a semi, however, any violation of federal law also will be considered. That’s because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees the trucking industry, which has its own rules and regulations for truck drivers and companies.
Texting and driving has its own set of rules. Despite state laws (which may or may not ban texting), truck drivers must adhere to federal driving rules when it comes to engaging in this type of action behind the wheel.
Federal Laws for Truckers Regarding Texting and Driving
Anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle is prohibited from texting while driving. This applies to short messaging services and other means of communicating through a handheld mobile device -- such as email or instant messaging.
In fact, the use of a handheld mobile device is not allowed for any reason. Truckers cannot hold it, reach for it or use it to make a phone call. The only type of device that can be used is hands-free, which requires pushing no more than one button to perform a task. In addition, it must be located close enough that it’s easily accessible.
Another option is for truckers to use the speaker function, voice activation or an earpiece. But again, it’s acceptable as long as no more than one button has to be pressed for making, answering or ending a phone call.
The ban against texting doesn’t apply only when the truck is moving. If a driver is stopped temporarily (at a stop sign, red light, waiting for a train to pass, traffic to move ahead, etc.), texting still isn’t allowed. The only time it can be done behind the wheel of a truck is when it has been pulled off safely to the side, and it remains stationary.
Consequences of a Trucker Texting While Driving
There are serious consequences for violating this federal law. Truck drivers could be fined as much as $2,750. But so could their employers if it’s found they required or allowed drivers to text. Fines for trucking companies can increase to $11,000. And in some cases, the trucker might be prohibited from driving for a certain period of time.
If there was an accident and it was discovered the trucker had been texting at the time (or even right before), it may impact the case. This type of negligence could be considered the cause of the crash. Or at the very least, it may be considered a contributing factor. Of course, it depends on the circumstances and what exactly happened.
Because of texting and other federal laws that could affect the outcome of a truck accident case, it’s usually a good idea to consult an attorney when someone has been seriously injured. The Law Office of Jason Schultz knows the specifics of texting and driving laws for both passenger vehicles and truckers. To establish fault, Jason Schultz will argue federal regulations banning texting and driving for truckers in addition to other information you give him on our contact form.