With a new joint rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, commercial truck and bus drivers may no longer use cell phones or “push to talk” phones while operating their vehicles on interstates. The new rule takes effect January 3, 2012.
The new rule specifies that it affects “all commercial motor vehicles operated in interstate commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, a vehicle operated solely in intrastate commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, or a vehicle transporting any amount of hazardous materials requiring a placard.” The new rule includes all contracted school bus operations and shuttle buses.
Distracted drivers cause between 25 to 50 percent of all U.S. motor vehicle accidents, according to the American Automobile Association. Distracted drivers of large over-the-road trucks and commercial vehicles can cause catastrophic consequences. “When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood when announcing the new rule in November.
There can be many causes in trucking accidents, and determining liability can be a complicated process. So if you or a loved one has been in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, be sure to contact an experienced attorney, like those at Gray, Ritter & Graham, to explore your legal options.