01/20/2011

Ringing in the New Year

New Cell Phone Restriction for CMV Drivers

More and more research and data is collected on unsafe driving practices and their strong link to cell phone use by drivers.  The distraction from a cell phone while driving a vehicle poses risks of a car accident, near-crash, unintended lane departures, and other potential dangers.  Using a cell phone is thought to reduce a driver’s situational awareness. Researchers classify driver distraction into 4 categories:

VISUALeyes not looking at the road
MANUALhands are off the wheel
COGNITIVEthinking about something else besides driving
AUDITORYlistening to someone else talking

They say that using a mobile device while driving poses a higher safety risk versus other activities that the driver may perform (eating) because all four types of driver distraction are involved.  For example, reaching for a mobile phone is both a visual and manual distraction.  Some states have responded to this issue and passed cell-phone free laws.  Among them are Alaska, California, Washington, and New Jersey which have banned hand-held devices for all drivers and are some of the few states that have laws against texting.

A video posted by the FMCSA shows a truck driver that is traveling in the far right lane of a highway. The driver is distracted while talking on a cell phone and does not notice that his lane is about to end due to construction. He also does not notice a vehicle preventing him from merging into the left lane. The driver has little time to respond as he approaches the barrier and hits the brake hard to avoid it.

VIDEO LINK: Distracted Drivers

Because mobile devices pose risks to drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a new rule to restrict the use of hand-held mobile phones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).   Motor carriers would also be prohibited from requiring or allowing CMV drivers to engage in using handheld phones while on duty.

The rule proposed by the FMCSA hopes to improve safety on highways by reducing the occurrence of distracted drivers and hopefully limit the related crashes and fatalities.  The FMCSA will be accepting comments and arguments of interested parties to their proposal by February 22, 2011.

UPDATE: FMCSA finalizes hand-held cell phone ban for commercial drivers.

Author: Alex Marinov

Alex Marinov is the president of RCG Logistics LLC, with years experience in the shipping and freight industry. His main interest include sustainable building design, video production and automobiles.