This recent story of an “ingenious” driver who taped his phone to the steering wheel so he could watch a soccer game clearly shows how some people still don’t fully understand the dangers of distracted driving. How he was able to concentrate on road conditions, as well as watch a sports game, is beyond me.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations restricting the use of handheld mobile devices in CMVs have been in effect since January 2012, but it seems many drivers are disregarding them or don’t know what they are to begin with. Drivers and employers that require the use a mobile phone while driving can be fined for violating these rules. Violations can be costly, have a large negative effect on SMS results, and multiple offenses can lead to driver disqualification.
Phone and tablet usage is not banned, but the rules surrounding their operation are very restrictive. The BigRoad app is designed to make the driver’s life easier and doesn’t need to be touched once you are driving. Here are BigRoad’s four tips for safe in-vehicle phone usage:
1. Invest in a Good Quality Mount
While not required by FMCSA rules, a secure mount is essential for “one-touch” operation of your mobile device. Holding a device in your hand while driving is a big no-no. The mount should be located in a fixed position that’s easily reached from the driver’s seat while wearing a seatbelt. Also, it should not be placed where it can block the driver’s view out the windshield.
2. Go Hands-Free with a Headset or Speakerphone
You are allowed to initiate, answer or terminate a call from a mobile device or a headset as long as it can be done with a “one-touch” function. If your vehicle doesn’t have a built-in speakerphone, then a convenient way of doing this is with a Bluetooth-style headset or a separate speakerphone unit. The choice comes down to personal preference. A headset may cause you discomfort if worn all day while a speakerphone may be prone to picking up more background noise in your truck.
3. Use Voice Dialling
No one remembers phone numbers these days and looking through a list of contacts is too time-consuming. For complete hands-free operation, speaking a name to dial is the only way to go. Activating voice dialling is simple if you are using a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone. Once you pair it with your phone, voice dialing is usually already activated for you. Touch a button, speak the name and it will dial. If you want to use your phone’s screen to voice dial then the best option is to put your phone into car mode for “one touch” operation.
4. Needing to Check the Screen
Remember that from a road safety perspective, temporary stops caused by road conditions or traffic signals still count as driving. You can’t start checking BigRoad’s Facebook page just because you are waiting at a red light. There’s only one safe way for you to check and send text messages. Pull off the highway and find a safe parking spot. Once you are parked so that your vehicle can safely remain stationary, you are free to use your phone however you like – send texts, check in with dispatch, look at cat pictures, and so forth.
Distracted Driving Kills
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013, there were 3,154 fatal crashes involving distracted drivers. When you take your eyes off the road for just a few seconds, you are essentially driving blind. Your focus is not on the road and you can easily travel past your vehicle’s safe stopping distance without realizing it.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving a CMV or a four-wheeler: distracted drivers are a menace to yourself and everyone else on the road. Please keep your eyes on the road and stay safe.
To learn more details about the FMCSA regulations limiting cell phone use please visit their website.