The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has adopted the new U.S. DOT rule regarding the use of hand-held mobile phones in commercial vehicles.
No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle. A commercial motor vehicle is defined by the US DOT as vehicle with a single or combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating , or actual weight of over 10,000 pounds, utilized in interstate commerce. (Most states have adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for intrastate commerce with vehicles at weights ranging from 10,001 to 26,001 pounds)
The use of a hand-held mobile telephone means:
1. Using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication;
2. Dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or
3. Reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner which requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated position.
Guidance: This rule does not prohibit a driver from using a mounted mobile phone which can be easily accessed from the driver’s seat and activated with a single button.
Driving means operating a commercial vehicle while on a public road, and when stopped in traffic on such a road. Driving does not include instances when the driver is safely parked. Emergency use is permitted.
The term mobile telephone does not include two way or citizens Band Radio services. However, the term mobile telephone does include mobile services which are provided for profit, have inter-connected service and is available to a substantial portion of the public.
The penalties for non compliance are severe, with federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense by a driver, and disqualification from driving for multiple offenses. This only applies if driving a commercial motor vehicle. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow drivers to use hand-held phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
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