Texting and driving laws from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibit the practice among commercial truckers. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and commissioned by the FMCSA, truck drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event (such as a truck accident) than truckers who don’t text and drive.
Who is banned from texting under these truck driving laws?
The texting and driving law applies to truckers and bus drivers who drive commercial motor vehicles.
A commercial vehicle is one that:
- has a gross vehicle weight/rating more than 10,000 pounds;
- can be used to transport 16 people or more (including the driver); and/or
- transports hazardous materials.
What is and what is not considered texting under the truck driving laws?
The definition of texting, according to the FMCSA, is “manually entering text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.”
- short message services (SMS);
- instant messaging;
- accessing a website;
- email; and
- any other type of electronic text messaging or retrieval.
The following actions are not considered texting:
- entering or selecting a phone number or performing voice commands in order to make or receive a phone call;
- using a GPS or navigation device; and
- using a smartphone, CB radio, music player or dispatching system for any other purpose besides texting.
Penalties under Trucker Texting and Driving Laws
The penalties for truck drivers who text while driving are harsh. A first offense can cost $2,750 for the driver, while the employer can be forced to pay $11,000. Those accused of multiple texting violations will not be able to operate a commercial motor vehicle for a certain amount of time.
Two violations in a three-year period result in disqualification for 60 days, while those accused of three or more violations within three years can face 120 days of disqualification.
The penalties listed above are federal regulations. A truck driver can face penalties for violating state and local texting and driving laws as well. In New York, all drivers are prohibited from sending or receiving text messages using a portable electronic device. Using a hand-held mobile telephone is also prohibited for all drivers in New York.
How Texting and Driving Laws Affect an Injury Claim
It’s important to not only be aware of truck driving laws, but to stay safe while driving. Driving is a privilege that comes with many responsibilities. Texting is an unsafe practice that causes drivers to lose their focus on the act of driving and instead become distracted. Texting behind the wheel has led to many accidents that have caused serious injuries and death.
Victims of truck accidents caused by a distracted trucker who was in violation of these truck driving laws may use such evidence to demonstrate the trucker’s negligence in the case like:
- witnesses to the accident who saw the trucker texting;
- a police report that indicates there is evidence that the truck driver was texting while operating the vehicle; or
- phone records from the trucker.
By demonstrating the trucker was using an electronic device to send or read a text message, victims may establish fault for the accident and recover compensation for damages from the trucker and his/her employer.
Those injured by a truck driver’s negligence or violation of truck driving laws should consult with a personal injury lawyer about their potential to take legal action. Gacovino Lake & Associates can help victims review the details of their accidents and pursue appropriate legal avenues of recovery.
Call today at 800-246-4878 for a free consultation and to discuss how texting and driving laws for truckers may apply.