Interstate Truck Drivers Face Cell Phone Ban
Posted on December 30th, 2011 by Zane Cagle
The fragility of life is never more apparent than when one is struck by a tractor trailer. One moment, you’re sitting in a car, stuck in traffic on your daily commute. You play around with the radio, shuffling between classic rock, commercials, and commentators talking about the daily news. The next moment, you look in your rear-view mirror just in time to see an 80,000 pound truck barreling up behind you. There are cars all around and you’ve got no place to go. All you can do is brace yourself and hope for the best.
On January 3, 2012, a federal ban for interstate truckers and bus drivers using cell phones goes into effect, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, this ban will prevent truck and bus drivers from making calls or answering a hand-held device while on the road. If found breaking the law, truckers face up to a $2,750 fine, while employers can face up to $11,000 in civil penalties. Some trucking associations are happy with the decision, saying it will almost certainly save lives and improve safety. Other associations, however, think the ban does not go far enough, arguing that all drivers should be restricted from using hand-held devices. They also worry that the law gives police too much discretion, creating a “he said-she said” situation when a car is pulled over.
Studies have begun to catch up with technology, and people are beginning to realize that distracted driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. It seems like an exaggeration, but the facts bear this statement out. When a person is talking or texting, they are not paying attention to the road, and this causes accidents. Often, the people on their phones won’t even have a chance to hit the brakes or swerve, compounding the accident and making it far worse. This is what happened in 2008, when a tractor trailer driver reached for his ringing cell phone, not realizing he was coming upon stopped traffic. This accident killed three and injured 15 more.
More and more states have begun to recognize the dangers distracted drives poses, and they have begun to legislate accordingly. Missouri, however, is behind the curve regarding these laws. Currently, there are no restrictions on any one – passenger car drivers, bus drivers, truckers, whomever – on using hand-held devices. Even texting is hardly regulated; currently, only Missouri drivers under 21 are restricted from texting behind the wheel. Bills have been proposed in the Missouri legislature, but all have died before becoming law. As the federal government leads the way, however, there is no doubt that states such as Missouri will be compelled to follow and begin passing their own restrictions on cell phone usage behind the wheel.
Even though it is not against the law, drivers are encouraged to refrain from texting or talking while driving. If one simply must be able to receive phone calls at any time, is suggested that drivers get a Bluetooth headset. The jury is still out, however, on whether or not that is actually safer than using a hand-held device. Regardless of whether using a Bluetooth headset or hand-held device, if you are talking while driving, one should go slower, leave more room between vehicles, and try to take care, as your life and the lives of other drivers are more important than a phone call.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident or semi truck accident and you wonder if a cell phone was being used during or seconds before the crash, contact Zane T. Cagle of The Cagle Law Firm. As part of investigation of crashes, the attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm can research cell phone records, hours of operation, and other factors impacting the crash. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after a crash is important in order to preserve evidence. If you or a loved one has been in a crash, contacting an attorney will only give you more options in the future. Call Zane T. Cagle at 1(314) 276-1681.
St. LouisPost Dispatch, “Truck Drivers Face Cellphone Ban” January, 2011.
St. Louis Post Dispatch, “Police Driver in Fatal Accident Not Paying Attention”