Cellphone restriction advancing for hazmat haulers

| Thursday, April 28, 2011

Commercial drivers are already operating under a federal ban on texting while driving, and the truck and bus industries are paying close attention to additional proposals targeting driver distraction. One of those proposals, which targets hand-held use of cellphones for intrastate drivers hauling hazmat, is advancing.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has jurisdiction over intrastate hazmat haulers and intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Friday, April 29, relating to hand-held use of cellphones while driving.

The proposal takes into account the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule on texting while driving, and also the FMCSA’s proposed rule to restrict the use of hand-held phones while engaged in interstate commerce.

Since 2009, federal regulators have targeted five regulatory actions involving driver distraction.

The actions are based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s aggressive efforts to curb driver distraction in the commercial sector where the agency has jurisdiction. Thirty-one states have banned texting while driving for all motorists.

So far at least, the federal regulatory actions for commercial drivers do not target CB use or hands-free use of communication devices, although one of the proposed rulemakings by the FMCSA poses “what if” questions on the possibility of regulating all cellphone use, including hands-free.

OOIDA supports a ban on texting while driving any vehicle, and says that commercial drivers are the safest drivers per capita on the road per vehicle miles traveled. Many truckers use communication devices, including phone applications for GPS, to do their jobs.

“OOIDA supports government efforts to prohibit motorists from sending text or email messages while operating a moving vehicle,” Association leadership stated in its official position. “OOIDA also calls upon government entities to aggressively pursue opportunities to educate the motoring public on safe driving practices and encourages law enforcement agencies to fully enforce existing laws pertaining to inattentive or negligent driving.”

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