The Great Hang Up: Ban for Commercial Drivers

6:23 PM, Feb 28, 2012   |    comments
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An estimated 3.5 million people in the U.S. drive commercial trucks according to the website truckinginfo.net.

A recent law that took affect changed the way many operated behind the wheel.

In this months Great Hang Up, we take a look at the federal law banning hand-held cell phone use for truck drivers.

Leland Minnix said in 36 years on the open road he's seen the business transform.

"From vehicles to laws to highways, you name it," he said. "Its all changed."

The newest regulation to roll in for truckers is a federal ban on hand-held cell phone use.

The law took effect January 1, but Minnix says many drivers already made the transition.

"I don't think its changed a whole lot because most of your drivers were using headsets anyway," he said.

If a commercial driver is caught using a cell phone, they can face up to a $2,750 fine and can be disqualified from operating a motor vehicle if caught multiple times.

"I thought it was a wonderful idea. Hopefully it will make the roads safer," said Rebecca Waltz.

In almost two decades behind the wheel, she says she's seen more and more drivers of all kinds using their phones, and other drivers agree that can cause problems.

"To hold a cell phone and drive and shift gears, it's a mess," said Marcus Reeves.

For him, going hands-free makes talking and driving safer.

"I can have my hands on the wheel. I'm focusing. I'm looking around. I'm not trying to fumble with the phone," he said.

Waltz says her company took the hand-held ban a step further.

"We can't even use bluetooth. If we find it necessary to use to use the phone, we have to pull off the road and go to a safe location," she said.

Some drivers believe a broader ban could make the roads even safer.

"It should be across the board," said Minnix. "Why just pick on us when it's cars and pick ups? They're doing the same thing."

Research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows commercial drivers reaching for an object like a phone are three times more likely to have an accident.

Bus drivers also fall under the new law banning cell phone use while driving.

You can also join in and pledge to put your phone down while driving. Just sign The Great Hang Up pledge.

Once you sign it, we want to hear from you. Send us an email to thegreathangup@13wmaz.com.

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