Is there a federal rule about truck drivers texting at the wheel?

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2021 | Truck accidents |

There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about texting while driving. Some people think that rules about this dangerous driving habit only apply to teenagers. Others think there is a federal ban that applies to everyone on the road.

For most drivers, the legality of texting while driving and other forms of mobile phone use at the wheel depends on state law. However, there is one pool of drivers whose licensing receives federal oversight. Those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) have to have additional education and also maintain a higher standard of safety while driving to retain their licenses.

Is there a federal rule about commercial drivers texting, and will it impact your rights after a crash with a commercial vehicle?

Yes, federal regulations restrict mobile phone use

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency whose responsibilities include regulating the behavior of commercial drivers. They have multiple rules, including the comprehensive no-text rule, that everyone with a CDL must follow in addition to local and state traffic laws.

This rule makes it a violation for someone with a CDL to manually enter information into a mobile device while driving. Not just text messages, but also email, web addresses, social media content and even phone numbers could lead to violations of the no-text rule.

What does that mean for you after a crash?

If you suspect that a commercial driver had their phone in their hands at the time of the crash, telling the police about your suspicions will help. Their wrongful or rule-breaking actions could make them more liable for the collision and might even give you grounds for a civil lawsuit.

If you don’t do so at the time of the wreck, you may need to speak with an attorney about your concerns. Your lawyer could request records from the phone carrier providing service to the driver to determine if there was a phone number dialed or any data entered immediately prior to the crash. Traffic camera and security camera footage might also help you so that a driver did not have their hands on the wheel.

A violation of the law opens a driver up to civil litigation when they cause injury or property damage to others. Knowing the rules helps you take action to protect yourself when someone else hurts you in a major vehicle collision.