DOT Final Rule Bans Cell Phone Use By Commercial Bus Drivers, Truckers

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By Michael Rose

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles, including buses and trucks on interstate routes, will be banned from using hand-held mobile telephones while driving, under a final rule published in the Dec. 2 Federal Register (76 Fed. Reg. 75,470) by the Transportation Department.

The final rule addresses two proposed rules, issued separately by DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in December 2010 (62 BTM 3, 1/4/11) and its Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in April 2011 that both were designed to restrict cell phone use by commercial drivers.

The rule addresses the use of “hand-held mobile telephones” by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), including “using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone” for a phone call, the final rule said. Drivers, however, may use “a compliant mobile telephone,” such as a hands-free model, while driving.

In addition, the rule provides that “interstate CMV drivers convicted of using a hand-held mobile telephone” and “[commercial driver's license] holders convicted of two or more serious traffic violations of State or local laws or ordinances on motor vehicle traffic control, including using a hand-held mobile telephone,” will be disqualified from operating commercial motor vehicles.

Employers of commercial drivers also will be banned under the final rule from requiring drivers to use their cell phones while driving.

Drivers can be fined $2,750 per violation, and carriers may be fined $11,000, the rule said.

Text of the final rule may be accessed at .