The Friedman Blog

Posted on 07/06/2011, by Jeremy Edsall

Use Of Electronic Devices In CMV’s

It's good practice to make sure drivers are aware of the laws regarding use of electronic devices and cell phones and make these a part of your Cell Phone/Electronic Device Use Policy.

Commercial Truck Drivers

Federal legislation prohibits drivers operating Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) from texting using electronic devices, and provides sanctions including fines and possible license suspension for drivers convicted of texting while operating CMVs.

For CMV drivers, texting includes:
-    Short message service
-    E-mailing
-    Instant messaging
-    Commands or requests to access a website
-    Engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or electronic text entry for present or future communication.

Texting does not include:

-    Reading, selecting or entering a telephone number, an extension number or voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device to make or receive a telephone call
-    Using voice commands to make or receive a telephone call
-    Inputting, selecting or reading information on a global positioning system or navigation system
-    Using a device capable of performing multiple functions (such as fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, citizens band radios and music players) for purposes other than texting.
All  drivers must follow these federal regulations.

General Procedures

-    Use of cell phones while driving is strictly prohibited – this includes all functions of the cell phone including, but not limited to, phone calls, text messaging/SMS, e-mail, MMS, Internet use, camera use, etc.
-    Use of electronic devices – including laptops, PDAs, cameras and pagers – while driving is strictly prohibited unless specifically outlined below
-    Voicemail must handle all calls while driving, and calls may only be returned when stopped or pulled off the road
-    Passengers making or taking calls for the driver is permissible provided the interaction does not affect the driver’s performance
-    Regular callers must be informed that you will not be available while driving and should be notified of the best times to call based on driving schedule
-    Employees who receive calls from co-workers who are driving are obligated to ask that the co-worker call back at a more appropriate time.

Headset/Hands-Free Use

The use of headsets or hands-free devices while driving is permissible IF:

-    Device is pre-approved by  for use
-  Use of the device does not cause distraction (i.e., fiddling with the device or taking eyes off road to get it to function properly)
-  Any dialing or use of the handset is handled while stopped or pulled to the side of the road
-    Conversations do not interfere with the driver’s ability to drive safely
-    Road conditions are generally good and do not threaten your safety

Emergency Calls

The only exception to the cell phone use policy is calls placed to 911. If placing or accepting an emergency call, keep it short and use a hands-free option if available. Pull over if practicable.

GPS Systems

understands that sometimes, especially when traveling in unfamiliar areas, drivers require assistance with directions. GPS systems are extremely helpful devices, but they can also be distracting if used improperly. Employees must adhere to the following:
-    Mounted GPS systems may not block or obstruct the driver’s view in any way.
-    GPS systems must be voice narrated and must not require that the driver look away from the road to follow instructions.
-    Employees may not program the system while in motion
-    Programming or otherwise engaging with the GPS screen may only occur while stopped or while pulled off the road.

MP3 and Other Audio Devices

In some cases, worrying about music selection or touching dials and buttons on the radio, MP3 player or other audio device may be just as dangerous as cell phone use. It takes eyes and concentration off the road, which is not permissible under  policy.  does allow employee use of personal, portable audio devices. However, while the company does not want to eliminate employees’ ability to enjoy music while behind the wheel, certain guidelines are in place:

-    Employees may not take eyes off the road to adjust music settings.
-    Programming music settings while stopped, pulled off the road or before departing is permissible behavior.

Employees may not under any circumstances use MP3 players or other handheld electronic audio devices with headphones – not only is it illegal in most states, it also impedes the driver’s ability to properly hear warning signs, signals or sirens


This does not address potential compliance issues with Federal, State, OSHA or any other regulatory agency standards. It is not meant to be exhaustive or construed as legal advice. Consult your licensed commercial Property and Casualty representative at Friedman Associates or legal counsel to address possible compliance requirements. © 2002, 2010 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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