(10/29/13) - Tougher laws for truck drivers using cell phones have gone into
effect in Michigan.
Police officers can now issue a ticket if they see a driver holding a phone in his hand while on the road.
"They're a little overboard as far as the fines and warnings go," said Matt Cebula, professional truck driver.
Michigan's new restrictions on what truck drivers can do with mobile phones isn't popular with those who steer the big rigs. The first offense is a $100 fine. Each violation after that will cost $200.
"To have such major fines I think is a little unfair," Cebula said.
"Commercial motor vehicle drivers and school bus operators can no longer use the handheld phone to talk," said Sgt. Doug Szczepanski, Michigan State Police commercial vehicle enforcement division.
In addition, dialing or answering the phone cannot involve pushing more than one button and there can be no texting, e-mail or web searching. Sgt. Szczepanski says the stricter regulations come after the federal government set up new guidelines earlier this year. Lawmakers felt it was important for truck drivers and school bus drivers to avoid distractions.
"The potential for property damage and personal injury is so much greater with those vehicles that as professionals they're held to a higher standard," Sgt. Szczepanski said.
Most truck drivers feel they're among the safest drivers on the road, so restricting handheld devices won't make much of a difference.
"We are under a lot more stringent laws. That's why we inherently notice what's going on the road," Cebula said.
The phone can be used if a wired or wireless earpiece is used.
"You can use a GPS device for navigation," Sgt. Szczepanski said.
If a ticket is issued, the information could eventually make its way back to the trucking company, which could put more heat on the driver.
ABC12 Main Station