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What are the mobile phone rules for commercial drivers?

By now, most people are aware that driving while texting is a dangerous act. Talking on the phone can be distracting while you drive, too. In some states, it’s illegal to text and drive or to hold a phone and drive, but you may be able to drive and talk on the phone if you wear a Bluetooth or have a one-touch answering set up on your phone. Is that the way phone safety works for commercial drivers, too?

Can commercial drivers text and drive?

No. It’s illegal for commercial drivers to text and drive. It’s illegal to read texts from an electronic device as well. Texting itself can be on any electronic device, not just a phone. So, emails and other electronic texting services fall under the regulation.

Can commercial drivers use a cellphone?

Commercial drivers, on the whole, are not able to use mobile phones while they drive. The exact regulation is that the drive may not reach out for or hold a phone to have a conversation, and he can’t dial if more than one key press is required. That means that some drivers can use a phone if it’s within close reach and is a hands-free device. That’s why some taxi drivers are still able to receive calls while they drive.

To make sure a driver is compliant with the regulation, the driver must be able to use the phone while still belted in. An earpiece or speaker function has to be used. On top of that, the phone must be answerable through a one-touch feature or by the use of voice activation.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Distracted Driving,” accessed Jan. 19, 2016

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