Overview of Federal Truck Texting and Driving Laws

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012, over 3,300 people died and approximately 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, such as a driver who was texting and driving. When large trucks are involved, the ramifications of the collision are greatly magnified.

Thus, the federal government has implemented truck texting and driving laws by which drivers must abide.

Federal Truck Texting and Driving Laws

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency that provides the rules and regulations by which truck drivers and truck companies must abide. This includes texting and driving laws for truck drivers.

The federal government has a very strict ban in place that prohibits truck drivers from using handheld devices while driving. In other words, truck drivers and bus drivers cannot use handheld devices or text while driving. Period.

The ban, a joint rule from the FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), was instated in November 2011. It was part of an effort by the U.S. Department of Transportation to end distracted driving.

The Importance of Banning Texting and Driving by Truck Drivers

Texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving greatly increase the risk of crashing. When drivers text while driving, they take their eyes off of the road for an average of five seconds per text, according to a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. When traveling at 55 miles an hour, this means that the driver will look away from the road for about the distance of a football field.

In a press release, the FMCSA shared a few significant facts that illustrate exactly why it’s so important for truck drivers not to text while driving.

  • When commercial drivers use a handheld phone, it requires them “to take several risky steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including searching and reaching for the phone.”
  • When commercial drivers reach for an object such as a phone, they increase their risk of crashing by threefold.
  • When the drivers dial on a cell phone while driving, they are six times more likely to be involved in an accident.

Penalties for Breaking Truck Texting and Driving Laws

The FMSCA imposes fairly stiff penalties for truck drivers caught texting while driving. If the driver is in violation of truck texting and driving laws, he or she can face the federal civil penalties listed below.

  • $2,750 in fines for each offense
  • Loss of their commercial driver’s license privileges for multiple offenses
  • Companies that allow their drivers to use handheld devices while driving may be fined up to $11,000

FMSCA Administrator Anne S. Ferro explains the importance of the no texting while driving rule, "This final rule represents a giant leap for safety. It's just too dangerous for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle. Drivers must keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and head in the game when operating on our roads. Lives are at stake."

When Texting and Driving Leads to an Accident

In addition to facing penalties for violating truck texting and driving laws, if a truck driver was texting and driving and the distraction contributed to an accident, the trucking company can be liable for the resulting damages.

If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident, speak to a local attorney about your case. Your attorney can investigate the causes of the accident, determine if the truck driver violated texting and driving laws for truck drivers and was at fault, help you collect truck accident evidence, and then help you seek compensation to which you’re entitled.

Speak to a Truck Accident Attorney in Clarksburg Today

To speak to a truck accident attorney, call our legal team at the Miley Legal Group. Contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation: (304) 931-4088.