New Penalties for Cell Phone Use: Commercial Motor Vehicles

Effective January 3, 2012, new penalties may be imposed on commercial motor vehicle (“CMV”) companies as well as their drivers for using mobile phones. As a result of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recent amendment to 49 CFR 392.82, which has been adopted by the State of Michigan, drivers are prohibited from using cell phones while driving a CMV. Furthermore, a company that uses CMVs for its business is prohibited from allowing or requiring its drivers to use cell phones while driving a CMV.

CMVs include semi-trucks and trailers, businesses using trucks with trailers (such as lawn service businesses), box trucks, and tow trucks. Generally, if the vehicle requires a Department of Transportation number, the vehicle will qualify as a CMV.

Use of a handheld mobile phone includes:

  • Using at least one hand to hold the phone to conduct voice communication;
  • Dialing or answering a phone by pressing more than a single button;
  • Reaching for a phone in a manner that requires the driver to maneuver out of a seated position or property adjusted seatbelt.

Cell phone use while driving can be dangerous under any circumstances, but for CMV carriers and drivers, it can now be costly with these new fines imposed against the driver and/or the drivers’ employer for each violation. CMV drivers and companies should take care by utilizing Bluetooth, hands-free, one-button service technologies, or CB radios.

For questions regarding this new regulation and how it may apply to your business, please contact Wright Beamer.

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