The last thing you saw before the truck crashed into you on a Southern California road was the trucker talking on his cell phone.  Now you’re in the hospital recovering from a hip replacement and you’re wondering if it was legal for the trucker to talk on his cellphone while driving.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule bans the use of cellphones by truckers while driving. The was implemented in response to FMCSA research showing that truckers dialing on their cellphones were six times more likely to either crash, almost crash, or veer into another lane than drivers not using a cellphone. When a trucker dials a phone, his eyes are off the road for an average of 3.8 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, the truck would have traveled 306 feet, or the length of a football field, while the driver wasn’t watching the road or traffic conditions. That’s pretty scary.

The Definition of Using a Cellphone

What is considered using a cellphone is broad. It includes:

  • Using one hand to hold the phone to make a call.
  • Dialing the cellphone by pressing more than one button.
  • Reaching for a cellphone in a manner which results in the driver not being in a seated position with his seatbelt restraining him.

These rules apply to truckers operating a commercial motor vehicle on a roadway. Cellphone usage is also banned when the trucker is temporarily stationary due to traffic, stoplights, or traffic jams. Hands-free cellphone usage is permitted. Penalties for violating this rule include a trucker fine of up to $2,750 and a company fine of $11,000.  A driver can also be barred from driving commercial vehicles for violating the cellphone ban.

The purpose of this regulation is to reduce trucker accidents caused by distracted driving, but not all truckers follow this rule. And it is questionable whether hand-free cellphone usage is safe either.

Motor vehicle accidents involving trucks can lead to horrible and sometimes fatal injuries. If you were hurt or your family member was killed in an accident where a trucker was at fault, you shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for your losses. You could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Call us at (800) 989-6385 for a free consultation.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982