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Can Virginia commercial drivers use cell phones while driving?

Cell phones have become an integral part of everyday life in Manassas and across the country. While mobile devices have undoubtedly made life easier in countless ways, they pose a threat when used in the wrong types of situations. Using a handheld cell phone, while driving, is illegal in Virginia. A police officer may even pull over a driver using such a device, even if they have not committed any other offense.

Virginia takes distracted driving seriously, which is why it is so important to commercial vehicle drivers to also obey all cell phone restrictions because cell phone distractions can cause a commercial vehicle accident. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are a myriad of restrictions regarding truck drivers' ability to use a cell phone while behind the wheel. Texting while driving is completely prohibited, while talking on a cell phone is only allowed if the driver is using a hands-free device. Commercial motor vehicle drivers are also prohibited from reaching for a mobile device or pushing more than one button to make a call.

Fortunately, today's technology makes it possible for all drivers, including truck drivers, to use a cell phone while keeping both hands on the wheel. In addition to a phone's speakerphone option, there are many hands-free products on the market that allow a driver to talk without actually holding the phone. Likewise, voice-activated dialing means truck drivers and other drivers do not have to push a lot of buttons in order to make a call.

If a negligent truck driver is spotted holding a mobile device while driving or texting behind the wheel, he or she can face stiff penalties, such as thousands of dollars in fines and disqualification. These seemingly simple offenses are actually quite serious. Recent research showed that drivers who text remove their eyes from the road for over 4.5 seconds on average. Even looking away for a moment can result in a semi-truck accident and catastrophic injuries. In order to avoid these deadly scenarios, truck drivers need to obey all laws and applicable regulations regarding cell phone use.

Source: FMCSA.DOT.gov, "Distracted driving," accessed on Feb. 27, 2015

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