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Do Michigan truck drivers know about the new cell phone ban?

February 4, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Truck lawyer says motor carriers must do more to alert truckers about new law

I was quoted in a Grand Rapids Press article last week written by Zane McMillin, about how many West Michigan truck drivers – and their motor carrier employers – are completely unaware of the new cell phone ban for commercial truckers.

Here’s the full story: Police are trying to alert West Michigan truck drivers to cell phone ban.

According to the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ban, commercial truck drivers are not allowed to use cell phones while driving. This means no texting, no talking on speaker, no surfing the Internet and no talking on the phone.

There are Federal civil penalties up to $2,750 for each offense and commercial truck and bus companies will face a maximum penalty of $11,000. States will also suspend a truck driver’s CDL after two or more serious traffic violations and disqualify a trucker for multiple offenses.

The Grand Rapids Press also interviewed a business owner with a fleet of trucks, and she had no clue the new cell phone ban for truckers was in existence. A police source in the story said that the first three months of the new law’s implementation is more like an “educational period” rather than enforcement, and he too said that most truckers likely have no idea about the new truck cell phone ban.

I told the Grand Rapids Press that this is a case where ignorance really isn’t an excuse and police throughout Michigan must start enforcing this law. Now is the time. Why – when it has been proven that the risk of a serious truck accident injury or death increases substantially when a truck driver is using a cell phone – should we delay enforcement? The entire reason for the new regulation is because of just how dangerous it is to use a cell phone, and if motor carriers are not educating truck drivers on this, then it is up to the police, as a distracted driver puts everyone on the road at risk.

And while distracted driving is a serious issue for passenger vehicles as well, the sheer mass and weight of big trucks was what finally made the FMCSA act now. Why should we wait for one more truck accident to occur, at the hands of a trucker who is distracted from a cell phone or texting while driving behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck?!

It is the trucking companies’ responsibility to inform their drivers that they are no longer allowed to use cell phones while behind the wheel. The enforcement of this important safety rule has to start somewhere, and that onus is on the trucking companies who employ these drivers to properly train, supervise and monitor how they drive.

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the top truck lawyers in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported jury verdict in Michigan for a truck accident case. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.

Related information to protect yourself:

Cell phone ban in effect for truckers NOW

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Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit. Call (800) 777-0028 or to speak with one of our Michigan truck lawyers now.

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