The new laws banning commercial drivers from using new or old cell phones went into effect all over the United States yesterday. Those with a commercial drivers’ license are no longer allowed to make use of handheld devices whilst on the road. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, who were behind the ban, say that CDL drivers operating buses and heavy trucks cannot hold, operate or even reach for handheld devices while they are driving.
Not everyone is impressed with the new laws, however, with truck driver Ken Duarte decrying it as just more expense for drivers. “It’s just another cost that’s added on to the drivers,” he says. “You’re going to have to upgrade your phones and buy headsets. It’s just another cost thrown at us.”
The rule is a primary offense in Missouri, where police can stop drivers who are witnessed using cell phones or other handheld devices when on the road. “We’re trying to get the focus back on operating these vehicles,” claims Missouri State Highway Patrol officer Lt John Hotz. “We’re talking about vehicles that weigh 80,000 pounds, maybe carrying a large number of passengers. It is important that these drivers are focused. Not only on what their vehicles are doing but on what other vehicles are doing around them.”
Commercial drivers face fines of up to $2750 if they are caught committing the offense, and could face disqualification for multiple offenses.