Federal Cell Phone Regulations to Affect Commercial Drivers

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Last updated April 12, 2019

Few people like to be cut off from cell phone communication, but most Americans do agree that texting while driving is highly hazardous.  Most would also agree that trying to dial a number is also a bad idea while behind the wheel, though some people do feel that it is safe to hold a phone and talk while the other hand controls the wheel.

Regardless of our personal sentiments, however, the federal government has stepped in with a national law regarding cell phone use while driving, but as of now, the law only applies to a single class of drivers: those who operate commercial vehicles.  Beginning this month, commercial drivers in all 50 states will not be allowed to use a hand-held cell phone while they are behind the wheel.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced this in November, but the rules have only just now taken effect with the arrival of the New Year.

Commercial drivers will still be allowed to communicate using cell phones while they drive, but only if they have hands-free devices enabled so that it is possible to dial numbers and talk while still keeping both hands on the wheel.

Even so called ‘push to talk’ devices will be disallowed under these regulations as the need to push a button renders them outside the hands-free category of cell phone communication technology.  It remains to be seen if more states will impose similar restrictions on non-commercial drivers.