Two-Way Radios and the Distracted Truck Driver

Commercial truck drivers work in a mobile office. With many in their trucks nonstop for hours or days at a time, the need for instant and reliable communication is significant. While a cell phone may be the obvious go-to device, issues of legality and coverage tend to make two-way radios a better choice. Nevertheless, truckers are required to use the radios safely while driving. A two-way radio has the ability to both transmit and receive a radio signal, as opposed to a radio that can only receive. Operation in half-duplex mode allows the radio to transmit or receive in turn, but not both simultaneously. Full-duplex mode allows the radio to transmit and receive at the same time. Advantages over cell phones include fewer coverage limitations, ease of group communication, longer battery life and higher durability. Furthermore, these systems fall outside the scope of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) rules that limit the use of mobile telephones while driving. The regulations restrict commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers from holding a mobile device to make a call, or dialing by pressing more than a single button. CMV drivers who use a mobile phone while driving can only use a hands-free phone located in close proximity. The rules were enacted based on research revealing that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event such as a crash or an unintentional lane deviation were six times greater for CMV drivers who engaged in dialing a mobile phone while driving than for those who did not. Dialing drivers took their eyes off the road for an average of 3.8 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s the length of a football field. Attempting to dial a phone number is more hazardous than simply pushing a single button to make or receive a call.

CMV drivers who are caught using a hand-held mobile phone can be disqualified by the FMCSA.
Financial penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device while driving. Two-way radios are not included in the FMCSA definition of a mobile communication device for purposes of this rule, chiefly because they are not an interconnected service. Reaching for, holding, or dialing a device is a quick route to a distracted driving accident. Radio-equipped truckers can help ensure one-touch use by mounting portable radios on a well-placed clip near the steering wheel or installing mobile radios in a spot where the microphone can be easily accessed. Many digital radios are capable of using hands-free Bluetooth technology and settings allow audio indicator tones to sound for every button pushed, so users can keep their eyes on the road. Audio indicators also direct the driver’s attention to the radio only when action is required. Even though two-way radios may be less distracting than using mobile phones or other common activities done behind the wheel, they can still cause wrecks. If you have been injured in a Kentucky truck crash involving a two-way radio distraction, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people and we can help you. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. Contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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