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Are commercial drivers allowed to use a cell phone while driving?

The advances in technology have been astonishing over the past several decades. For instance, many Knoxville residents now depend heavily on their smartphones, which did not even exist just a few years ago.

While the technological advances have been beneficial to many, there are also certain consequences that come along with the new technology. For example, many drivers talk or text on their phones while driving, which can cause accidents and serious injuries to others. As a result, governmental entities are in the process of enacting laws that restrict cell phone use while driving, with different states taking different approaches in terms of how much cell phone use is allowed.

The federal government has also taken action by enacting certain federal trucking regulations that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving. The regulations apply to interstate and intrastate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles, although only certain types of intrastate drivers are covered by the rule. Drivers who are working for a state or political subdivision are not covered under the rule.

Under the regulations, hands-free use of a cell phone is allowed under certain circumstances, such as by use of an earpiece or speakerphone. However, individuals are not supposed to dial a telephone number while operating the vehicle, nor are push-to-talk functions allowed. At the same time, drivers are allowed to answer or end a call by touching a single button on their phone or steering wheel or comparable location.

These rules can become important if another individual is injured by a truck driver who was violating the rule at the time of the accident. The rule may be evidence of the truck driver's negligence, although the nuances of the rule are important to understand in order to determine what is and is not prohibited by the regulations.

Source: Tennessee Trucking Association, "Drivers of CMVs: Restricting the Use of Cellular Phones," accessed on Dec. 19, 2014

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