Distracted driving proposals advancing at fed level

| 12/10/2010

All truck drivers should already know about the federal ban on texting while operating a CMV in interstate commerce. The feds have four other regulatory actions in the works to target driver distractions, including one to restrict the use of cell phones that cleared a regulatory hurdle this week.

A notice of proposed rulemaking titled “Drivers of Commercial Vehicles: Restricting the Use of Cellular Phones” advanced from the White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday, Dec. 9.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration predicts that this particular notice, or NPRM, will publish to the Federal Register on or about Dec. 26. Once it publishes, regulators will set their sights on developing a final rule. The NPRM contains few details except to say that the action would update the National Transportation Safety Board’s “Most Wanted List” of safety recommendations.

The following is a rundown of additional regulatory action pertaining to commercial vehicles and driver distraction:

The big one for CMV drivers, which took effect Oct. 27, was titled “Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Limiting the Use of Wireless Communication Devices.” This final rule issued by the FMCSA was widely publicized, and a violation carries a steep fine of up to $2,750 for the driver and up to $11,000 for the motor carrier.

A final rule to limit the use of electronic devices by hazmat haulers could reach the White House OMB on or about Dec. 27. Federal regulators say this final rule, initiated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, could be published in the Federal Register on or about Feb. 8, 2011. It would affect intrastate haulers of hazmat not otherwise affected by other federal actions.

Next, a notice of proposed rulemaking issued by PHMSA to limit the use of mobile telephones for hazmat haulers and to prohibit motor carriers from requiring or allowing drivers to engage in the use of mobile telephones while driving was to have been submitted to OMB in late November. As of Friday, Dec. 10, this particular NPRM had not been sent to OMB.

Finally, FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will move forward with an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in which the agencies are considering to  “limit or restrict the use of electronic devices or certain activities by commercial vehicle drivers operating in interstate commerce and for drivers of CMVs containing a quantity of hazardous materials requiring placarding …” This ANPRM cleared the OMB on Oct. 4, and the FMCSA projects that it will publish on or about Dec. 14 in the Federal Register.