Five College Risk Management

No Cell Phones or Texting While Driving

Use of Cell Phones (including texting) is Prohibited While Driving College Vehicles Or While You are Driving on College Business.

College Policy: If the driver must use a cell phone while driving on College Business, or while driving a College owned vehicle, s/he must stop safely, secure the vehicle and then make or take the call. There are NO exceptions, including hands-free phones. This applies to everyone: employees, students and volunteers.

There are a few basic reasons for this policy:

  1. your personal safety; 
  2. the safety of others on the road – drivers and pedestrians; and 
  3. the College can be held liable for your accident.

There are two dangers associated with driving and cell phone use. First, drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing or texting. Second, people can become so absorbed in their conversations that their ability to concentrate on the act of driving is severely impaired, jeopardizing the safety of vehicle occupants and pedestrians. Since the first law was passed in New York in 2001 banning hand-held cell phone use while driving, there has been debate as to the exact nature and degree of hazard. At first safety experts focused on the problem as part of the larger one of driver distractions in general. These can include anything that reduces driver concentration on road hazards from drinking coffee to talking with another passenger. Now there is increasing evidence that the dangers associated with cell-phone use outweigh those of other distractions. Safety experts also acknowledge that the hazard posed by cell phone conversations is not eliminated, and may even be increased, by the use of hands-free sets.

DOT Announces Final Rule Banning Hand-Held Cell Phone Use by Drivers - 11/23/2011

The final ruling prohibits commercial drivers from using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a commercial truck or bus. Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses. Additionally, states will suspend a driver's commercial driver's license (CDL) after two or more serious traffic violations. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

The relevant provisions of the FMCSRs (49 CFR subtitle B, chapter III, subchapter B)
apply to CMV drivers and employers operating CMVs included in the statutory authority of the 1984 Act. The 1984 Act defines a CMV as a self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the highways to transport persons or property in interstate commerce; and that either: (1) has a gross vehicle weight/gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or greater; (2) is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; (3) is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, not for compensation; or (4) is transporting any quantity of hazardous materials requiring placards to be displayed on the vehicle (49 U.S.C. 31132(1)). All drivers operating CMVs are subject to the FMCSRs, except those who are employed by Federal, State, or local governments (49 U.S.C. 31132(2)).
The complete ruling can be viewed here.

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