Penalties for Distracted Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration defines distracted driving as reaching for, holding, dialing, reading and texting on any device. Truckers are allowed to use hands free devices, and many companies are moving towards installing hands-free dispatch devices to keep drivers’ focuses on the road. Being responsible for big rigs on the road is a dangerous job. It requires drivers to have their full attention while on the road, and serious consequences can arise if they aren’t extremely careful.

Regulations on Truck Drivers

  • New FMCSA regulations prohibit texting and hand-held mobile phone use while operating a commercial motor vehicle used in interstate commerce.
  • Drivers caught texting or using hand-held mobile phones are subject to fines, disqualifications, and being put out-of-service.
  • The FMCSA rules do not apply to devices used for dispatching, as long as they are used as part of the company’s fleet management system and are not being used for texting.
  • Research shows that CMV drivers who text were more than 23 times likely to be involved in a safety-critical event than those who do not.
  • CMV drivers dialing mobile phones were 6 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event.
  • While using hand-held devices to call or text is expressly prohibited, using the hands-free options of these devices is usually acceptable.
  • While state rules usually apply first, the fact that many states still haven’t devised rules to address distracted driving means that the FMCSA rules apply regardless of what state you are in.

Penalties for truck drivers caught driving-while-distracted:

  • Drivers can be fined up to $2,750.
  • Repeat offenses will result in the driver being disqualified, or put out-of-service , for up to 120 days.
  • The driver’s employer can be fined up to $11,000 if they knowingly allow or require drivers to use hand-held devices while driving.
  • Violations will negatively affect the employer’s SMS (Safety Measurement System) ratings.
  • Violations are considered “serious traffic violations” and penalties are taken from existing FCMSA guidelines.