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Updated Michigan CDL Manual reflects dangers of distracted driving

Michigan CDL Manual shows texting truckers are 23 times more likely to cause a wreck; risk of truck accident 6 times greater for hand-held cellphone use

Michigan CDL Manual

The Michigan Commercial Driver License Manual has been updated to reflect the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving has reached epidemic levels on our roads, and truckers are no exception. Many of the truck accidents that I have litigated as an attorney that focuses in this area are caused by truck drivers who are engaged in distracted driving.

In its 2015 update, the Michigan CDL Manual discusses the specific federal, distracted driving rules that bar truckers from texting and using a cellphone while driving.

Plus, the update goes into detail about the specific truck accident risks faced by commercial motor vehicle drivers who are texting or talking on the phone while driving.

You could say the CDL manual has “finally caught up with the times” because even though the trucking ban on texting and cellphone use took effect years before (in 2011), the 2013 updated version of the Michigan CDL Manual failed to make any mention of these new safety regulations.

Attorneys need to investigate distracted driving in truck wreck cases

Make no mistake, many truckers on our roads are choosing to ignore these mandatory safety rules and continue to text behind the wheel. As a trucking attorney, I see constantly how texting while driving and talking on the phone while driving causes truck wrecks.

I’ve written that my own personal experiences with the dangerous and deadly effects of distracted driving is very consistent with the larger trends we are seeing in Michigan when it comes to a big spike in motor vehicle accidents:

  • Fatalities and injuries from distracted driving-related car crashes in Michigan increased approximately 200% and 112%, respectively, from 2014 to 2016, according to Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center data.
  • Distracted driving car accidents in Michigan increased approximately 138% from 2014 to 2016, according to Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center data.

What are the distracted driving rules for truck drivers?

The distracted driving rules that truck drivers must comply with are found in the “Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles” part of the safety regulations enacted and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

In the Michigan CDL Manual, the distracted driving rules for truck drivers are found in Part One, Sections 2.9 through 2.9.7.

Can a truck driver text while he’s driving?

No. The FMCSA’s trucking texting ban provides: “No driver shall engage in texting while driving … No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to engage in texting while driving.” (49 CFR 392.80(a) and (b), “Prohibition against texting,” December 2, 2011; Michigan CDL Manual, Part One, section 2.9.5)

The Michigan CDL Manual clarifies that truck drivers and trucking companies who violate the texting ban will, among other penalties, face a fine of $2,750 and $11,000, respectively. (Michigan CDL Manual, Part One, section 2.9.5)

Can a truck driver talk on a cellphone while he’s driving?

No. The FMCSA’s trucking hand-held cellphone ban provides: “No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV … No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV.” (49 CFR 392.82(a)(1) and (2), “Using a hand-held mobile telephone,” December 2, 2011; Michigan CDL Manual, Part One, section 2.9.4)

As with the texting ban, the Michigan CDL Manual clarifies that truck drivers and trucking companies who violate the hand-held cellphone ban will, among other penalties, face a fine of $2,750 and $11,000, respectively. (Michigan CDL Manual, Part One, section 2.9.4)

How likely is a truck driver to crash if he’s been distracted driving?

The 2015 Michigan CDL Manual describes a truck driver’s crash risk from distracted driving as the following:

  • “Research indicates that the burden of talking on a cellphone — even if it’s hands-free — saps the brain of 39% of the energy it would ordinarily devote to safe driving. Drivers who use a hand-held device are more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury.” (Michigan CDL Manual, Part One, section 2.9.1)
  • “Research shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) is 6 times greater for CMV drivers who engage in dialing a mobile telephone while driving than for those who do not. Dialing drivers took their eyes off the forward roadway for an average of 3.8 seconds. At 55 mph (or 80.7 feet per second), this equates to a driver traveling 306 feet, the approximate length of a football field, without looking at the roadway.” (Michigan CDL Manual, Part One, section 2.9.4)
  • “Research shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) is 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who engage in texting while driving than for those who do not. Sending or receiving text takes your eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, you would travel 371 feet, or the length of an entire football field — without looking at the roadway.” (Michigan CDL Manual, Part One, section 2.9.5)
This entry was tagged Tags: CDL changes, distracted driving, distracted driving truckers, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
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