11/28/2011 11:30:00 AM
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The Department of Transportation announced a final rule that will ban interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cellphones while operating their vehicles.
The rule, issued by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, is the latest move by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to end distracted driving.
The rule prohibits commercial drivers from using hand-held phones while driving a truck or bus, sets federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualifies drivers from operating a commercial motor vehicle after multiple offenses.
Commercial truck and bus companies that allow drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a penalty of up to $11,000. The rule will affect about four million commercial drivers, DOT said.
FMCSA issued a regulation banning truck drivers from texting while operating in September 2010. PHMSA followed with a companion regulation in February 2011, banning texting by intrastate hazardous materials drivers.
American Trucking Associations welcomed the rule, saying it would improve safety.
â€œATA has been vocal in its support of Transportation Secretary LaHood’s quest to combat distracted driving and this is another appropriate step toward achieving that goal,â€� said ATA President Bill Graves.
â€œStudies have shown that actions like texting and dialing a phone can greatly increase crash risk, so by taking steps to curb these behaviors hold great promise to improve highway safety,â€� he said in a statement.
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