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A breakdown of the provisions contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new ban on hand-held cellphones:
• Prohibits interstate commercial truck and bus drivers, as well as intrastate drivers carrying hazardous materials, from holding, dialing or reaching for a hand-held cellphone, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission, while driving. This includes all push-to-talk phones, but does not extend to citizens band radios, GPS or fleet management devices.
• Permits drivers to use hands-free devices, provided that the operation of that device entails pushing no more than one button and does not require the driver to look away from the road.
• Fines drivers up to $2,750 for each violation of the rule. Drivers convicted of more than one violation in a three-year period will be disqualified from commercial driving for 60 days. More than two violations in a three-year span will result in a 120-day disqualification.
• Makes employers liable for their drivers' actions while on duty, regardless of whether those actions are sanctioned by the company. Employers that permit or require drivers to use hand-held devices, or fail to prevent them from doing so, will face a maximum $11,000 fine for each offense.
• Requires state transportation departments to include the new rules in their regulations by 2015 in order to qualify for funding via the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. States also must set rules applying to intrastate drivers carrying nonhazardous materials.
Underwriters, trucking companies and industry groups have mixed opinions on the merits and potential impact of a new federal rule prohibiting commercial truckers and bus drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving.