Final rule bans handheld cell phone use by truck, bus drivers

November 30, 2011

Washington – The Department of Transportation on Nov. 23 announced a final rule (.pdf file) that bans commercial motor vehicle drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.

CMV drivers who violate the final rule will face penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a CMV for multiple offenses. Additionally, states can suspend a driver’s commercial driver’s license after two or more serious traffic violations. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use handheld cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

However, CMV drivers may use handheld mobile devices while driving under special circumstances, such as reporting suspected terrorist activity and contacting emergency services. Drivers also may use the devices if they are pulled off to the side of a highway or have “halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary,” the final rule states.

The ban will go into effect 30 days following publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.