Texting While Driving Not Permitted by CMV Drivers

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule prohibits texting by Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers while operating in interstate commerce. The rule, which became effective on October 21, 2010, imposes sanctions, including civil penalties (fines up to $2,750 for drivers and $11,000 for carriers) and disqualifications from operating CMVs in interstate commerce, for drivers who fail to comply with this rule.  Additionally, motor carrier companies are prohibited from requiring or allowing their drivers to engage in texting while driving.  Through this rule, the list of disqualifying offenses for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) now include a conviction under state or local laws, regulations or ordinances that prohibit texting by CDL drivers while operating a CMV, including school bus and transit drivers.

Implications for Farmers
Interstate Operation - If you are an interstate (crossing state lines) operator of a vehicle considered to be a Commercial Motor Vehicle (this includes farm trucks and farm truck combinations that are 10,001 pounds or greater) you are required to comply with these new regulations.

Intrastate Operation – Due to the recent enactment of House Bill 2246 (discussed in previous article), Farm Bureau has not yet determined if the new texting regulations apply to intrastate (not leaving Pennsylvania) operators of commercial motor vehicles, but will provide further updates once more information is available. Regardless, due to the current regulatory uncertainty, it is recommended that operators of commercial motor vehicles for intrastate purposes also comply with the new regulations.

Relevant Definitions

  • Electronic device includes, but is not limited to, a cellular telephone; personal digital assistant; pager; computer; or any other device used to input, write, send, receive or read text.
  • Texting means manually entering alphanumeric text into, 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 webpage, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry for present or future communication.
    - Texting does not include:
  • Reading, selecting or entering a telephone number, an extension number, or voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device for the purpose of initiating or receiving a phone call or using voice commands to initiate or receive a telephone call;
  • Inputting, selecting, or reading information on a global positioning system or navigation system; or
  • Using a device capable of performing multiple functions (e.g. fleet management systems, dispatching devises, smart phones, citizens band radios, music players, etc.) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited in part 392.
    - Driving (relevant only to the prohibition on texting) means operating a commercial motor vehicle, with the motor running, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicles with or without the motor running when the driver moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

Learn more about the ban, and rationale behind the ban.