DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of September 12, 2011
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The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all cell phone usage — including hands free — be banned in Commercial Motor Vehicles.
The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent government body, made its recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and to the states earlier this week. The NTSB does not actually have the power to create regulations itself. Instead, it makes recommendations to FMCSA based on detailed studies that it performs.
In this case, the NTSB was investigating a crash that occurred in March 2010. Ten people died when a tractor-trailer hit a van holding 11 people. NTSB investigators say that cell-phone usage was a primary factor in that crash. The driver of the CMV was killed in that accident and was not charged. (Driver fatigue and the failure of highway crash barriers were also key factors in the accident).
Are These New Laws or Recommendations?
This is just a recommendation for now. However, FMCSA does tend to follow the NTSB’s recommendations in the majority of cases. This particular case has a reasonable chance of becoming regulation as the distracted driving is somewhat of a favorite cause of the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.
LaHood’s tenure in the position has been marked with a strong crackdown on distracted driving with numerous new laws and advertising campaigns against the use of cell phones — particularly texting — while driving.
Another interesting note about the NTSB’s recommendation is that it jibes with what the general consensus from safety experts has been for a long time: that it is the conversation that is distracting, not the holding of a cellphone. The experts have long advocated that hands free cellphones should be banned as well as hand held.
What is Currently Banned?
Currently, the regulations ban hand-held cellphone usage and ‘texting’. The texting definition is particularly broad.
Texting means manually entering alphanumeric text, or reading text from an electronic device.
This action includes, but is not limited to, short message service, e-mailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or electronic text entry for present or future communication.
Beyond that, the majority of states have laws regarding cellphone usage while driving. Below is an updated edition of the State Laws grid first featured in Fast-Fax 695. When in an unfamiliar state, our recommendation is always to pull over before using a cellphone.
I-64 Bridge in Louisville Closed. The I-64 bridge in Louisville, KY — a major thoroughfare, especially for truckers — has been closed indefinitely. A crack was found during a routine inspection necessitating that the structure be closed to traffic. The bridge is operated by the Indiana DOT, who have already indicated that there will be no problem fixing the crossing, however a timetable has not yet been offered.
Obviously, this is going to cause some serious issues in regards to crossing the Ohio river. The best advice is to use the I-65 bridge further upstream and use I-265 to link between I-64 and I-65. Baring heavy traffic, this should only add about half an hour to your journey.
A map is available on the Transportation Ticker Blog. To view it and for the rest of the top indsutry news, visit www.FoleyServicesBlog.com.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 704 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011