As of January 3, interstate truck and bus drivers (those driving between states) are forbidden from using hand-held cell phones while operating their trucks. The enforcement angle isn't as strong as it could be--drivers violating the rule are fined up to $2,750 per offense, and their truck-driving privileges can be revoked for multiple offenses. Employers may be fined up to $11,000. If we were really serious about this, there shouldn't be a warning period. One strike and you're out.
Truckers still have the option of various hands-free devices, including bluetooth or speakerphones.
It's hard to say where all this distracted driving/cell phone publicity is going to take us by the end of 2012. There are some groups that want to eliminate all cell phone use in all vehicles--whether hands-on or hands-free. If we were honest with ourselves, we would all probably admit that hands-free isn't much better than hands-on. On the other hand, drivers and the trucking industry are pushing back hard, arguing that this is an assault on our personal freedoms.
For more information:
- Text of the federal rule
- Charm City Lawyer Blog Post--New Law: Truck Drivers Prohibited From Using Cell Phones
- Distracted Doctoring