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Distracted truck drivers could cause catastrophic accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the agency that regulates the U.S. trucking industry. When it comes to mobile phone distractions, the FMCSA has simple, straightforward rules. Too many truck accidents that claimed the lives of other road users nationwide, including in Michigan, were linked to distracted driving.

The agency defines texting as reading or entering text on electronic devices. The definition includes terminating or initiating a call or text by pressing more than a single button. Furthermore, reaching, holding, dialing, texting and reading a mobile device are all forbidden.

Defining the use of a mobile device

As a separate rule, the FMCSA defines mobile device use as follows:

  • Making a call by holding the phone, even using only one hand
  • Pressing more than one button on the phone is considered dialing
  • A driver maneuvering out of the seated driving position and no longer restrained by the seat belt to reach for a mobile phone

The only exception to these rules is an emergency in which a truck driver contacts law enforcement. Any other communication must be on a hands-free device located within the driver’s reach, typically involving an earpiece speaker phone. Drivers must understand that hands-free means they must be able to push a single button to activate or end a call without changing the seated and restrained position behind the steering wheel.

Although there is no mention of the use of a camera phone in the FMCSA regulations, it requires handling the phone, which is a violation. Underscoring the dangers of distracted truck driving in Michigan is crucial. Victims of car vs. truck accidents might have grounds to file personal injury lawsuits for damage recovery if they can prove negligence on the trucker’s part. However, proving mobile phone distraction will likely require a thorough accident investigation by professionals.