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Steven M. Lee, PC

Q:
Are truck drivers allowed to use hands-free phones on the road?

A:

While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) currently allows truck drivers to use hands-free mobile devices, the rules may be changing soon.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing the FMCSA to reevaluate its rules regarding truck drivers and hands-free phone usage following a highly publicized crash in 2013 between a truck and a train that was carrying hazardous materials. The recommendation from the NTSB came in the form of its final report on that crash.

The accident, which occurred in Maryland, happened when the truck failed to stop and ensure that no train was coming prior to driving across train tracks. The train engineer blew the train’s horn several times coming up to the crossing, but the driver denied hearing the horn. The train partially derailed after striking the truck, spilling hazardous material that caught fire and exploded.

Among other reasons cited in the report, it was found that the truck driver had been distracted by a call coming to his hands-free device as he approached the train crossing. The NTSB recommended that the FMCSA tighten its current standards on phone use behind the wheel for truck drivers, as any distraction behind the wheel can lead to serious injury or death.

Distracted driving of any kind is dangerous, and the NTSB believes that hands-free devices can be just as distracting as their handheld counterparts. Many truck drivers are resistant to further restricting their hands-free phone usage, especially considering the ban has yet to be extended to all drivers. Time will tell how the laws will change to accommodate ever-changing technology, but for now, truck drivers are still legally allowed to use their hands-free devices to make and receive calls.

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