It’s no secret driving while using handheld devices like cell-phones to text, respond to emails and make calls can be extremely dangerous. Here’s a quick statistic I read recently…

“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on-the-job crashes cost employers more than $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury, and $3.6 million per fatality. And distracted driving caused by hand-held mobile device use is an emerging contributor to these accidents.”

This claim is even more dangerous for truckers who are carrying cargo with hazardous material. The FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have published rules pertaining to cell-phone use while operating a commercial motor vehicle. Many people are calling these changes the “distracted driver” law because they have been put in place to create a safer environment both in and out during transport. Specifically these rules apply to the following…

  • Interstate truck and bus drivers and drivers who transport placardable quantities of hazardous materials. A accident while transporting these materials can cause catastrophic damage as many are flammable.

Here’s a break break-down of the rules.

Later we’ll discuss some mobile apps you can install on your smart-phones to minimize the risk.

No Texting While Driving

Commercial motor vehicle drivers are NOT allowed to text while driving. The definition of texting is open for interpretation however it has been outlined as the following:

“Texting means manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.”

Includes:

  • Short message
  • Emailing
  • Instant message
  • Typing a command
  • Accessing web page
  • Pressing more than a single button. A single button pressed is fine only if it will activate an application that follows the distracted driver rules.

Mobile Phones Are Restricted For CMV Drivers

The rules and regulations are clear about what they expect from CMV drivers. They prohibit and restrict drivers to reach for a phone and press more than a “single” button. This single button should be used to activate a voice call. As a commercial motor vehicle driver you are ONLY allowed to operate hand-free phones during vehicle motion and it must be in close proximity.

The rule prohibits unsafely reaching for a device, holding a mobile phone, or pressing multiple buttons.

How Drivers Can Use Mobile Phone’s And Still Obey The Rules?

  • Use an earpiece and/or speaker phone function to streamline the call process.
  • Locate the mobile phone so it is operable by the driver while restrained by properly adjusted safety belts.
  • Use voice-activated or one-button touch features to initiate, answer, or terminate a call. Remember you can’t have more than a “single” button pressed. Anything higher is dangerous and if caught will mean you failed to follow the rules.

What Happens If I’m Caught Disobeying The Rules?

The “distracted driver” laws have some clear sanctions for those drivers NOT following the rules. Civil penalties include up to $2,750 and termination of license of a driver with multiple offenses. Next, companies have a strict set of rules and should prohibit drivers from texting or using hand-held mobile phones while operating a CMV. Companies may be fined $11,000 civil penalty.

Some Statistics

Other than facing fines for using mobile phones while operating a vehicle, it’s been proven those who use them are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a crash, near crash, death, etc. Statistics also show that texting while operating a CMV causes drivers to take their eyes off road for approx 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph this equals the length of a football field and increases the chances of fatal accidents.

Bottom Line: Using a hand held device while driving is a serious traffic violation that could result in a driver disqualification.

Mobile Applications Can Help…

Here are several mobile applications available that not only keep you safe, but follow the distracted driver rules. Let’s take a quick look at the most popular….

unnamedSprint’s Drive First Application (Only Sprint Customers)

This application will automatically detect when your commercial vehicle is in motion and disable the distracting features of your mobile phone. For example, when your vehicle exceeds 10mph the application will send calls to voice mail and silent texts and email messages. Here are some other cool features…

  • Auto driving detection and will lock your phone. Simply to use and NO buttons to push to activate.
  • Set VIP contacts who are allowed to contact you like family and boss.
  • Set to enable calls through Bluetooth or other hand free devices.
  • Exit and 911 buttons on always on the home-screen
  • Learn more now.

FleetSafer Mobile Application

An application developed by Aegis Mobility and compatible with Apple, Blackberry, AT&T, Samsung, Sprint, Verizon and Google. The concept is very simple because the application is all automated. The app will detect when vehicle is in motion and disable distracting functions.

When activated and in “Safe Mode” the application blocks access to the keyboard and screen. All notifications and alerts are silenced – including incoming calls, texts and emails. Learn more now.

DriveSafe.ly Application

Another great application to help drivers stay safe and its simplicity makes it great for everyone. Once installed it will read your texts and emails aloud allowing you to respond to them without touching a button on your phone. The cost for drivers is approx $79.90/yr or 7.99/mo. Here are some awesome features…

  • Works with Blackberry and Android
  • Reads texts and emails out loud in real-time1763040564d04c05_DriveSafe.ly
  • No need to touch phone while driving – completely hands-free
  • One-touch activation
  • Bluetooth and radio transmitter compatible
  • Reads text message shorthand (lol, brb)
  • Optional customizable auto-responder

CellControl Application

Pretty steep on the pricing however easily affordable for companies. It’s a great application which utilizes bluetooth-enabled technology that directly integrates with the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics to determine motion and implement policy. It’s an all-in-one solution because not only does it disable cellular phones, but will disable laptops and tablets that can be distracting during vehicle movement. For more information, please visit their official website: www.cellcontrol.com

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