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New Year Brings Federal Interstate Cell Phone Ban for Truckers

Earlier today, STLToday.com posted a detailed story on their website describing the new federal interstate cell phone ban for commercial vehicle drivers and the overall effect it will ultimately have on drivers. According to the report, beginning January 3, 2012, all interstate semi truck drivers may be subject to severe federal penalties if they are caught by authorities communicating on their hand-held cellular devices during commercial vehicle operation. With the United States Department of Transportation expecting this new hand-held phone ban to affect nearly 4 million commercial vehicle drivers around the country, the government agency will impose civil penalties of up to $2,750 per violation and $11,000 for employers found in violation of the cell phone ban.

Our Chicago truck accident lawyers read that the federal interstate cell phone ban has brought on divided support from various trucking organizations with many either substantially for or against the federal rule. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed that this measure is needed based on the notion that a commercial vehicle driver who reaches for or dials a hand-held cell phone is significantly more likely to be involved in a collision. The Secretary for the Department of Transportation released a statement saying that by just reaching for a ringing cell phone makes a truck driver three times more likely to be involved in an accident or another vehicle mishap … just a few seconds of driver distraction can be deadly when large commercial vehicles are involved.

Despite countless support from government agencies and truck drivers, our Chicago trucking accident attorneys read that several independent truck driver groups believe that the rule is unfair, as well as, unnecessary. Naysayers believe that hand-held cell phone use is similar if not more distracting than truck drivers using GPS devices or citizen band radios that are commonly used in truck cabs and that the imposed fines and penalties are unreasonably harsh. Additional criticism points out that since the final rule does not lay out a concrete enforcement plan, it leaves commercial vehicle drivers open for “he said/she said situations” with local authorities on whether or not the driver was using their hand-held cellular device.

Regardless of the criticisms brought on by this new legislation, our Chicago accidents lawyers applaud the efforts of the United States Department of Transportation to make the roadways a safer place for all types of vehicles to travel. With over 5,500 fatalities resulting in 2009 from distracted drivers –according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, any measure taken to eliminate this problem will ultimately prove to be exceedingly beneficial.