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Interstate trucking hand-held cell phone ban begins

Beginning Today, interstate truck and bus drivers will be prohibited from using hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicles.

The rule was announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation in an effort to end distracted driving.

"When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel."

Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and can lose their ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses.

States will also suspend a driver's commercial driver's license (CDL) after two or more serious traffic violations.

Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

The Transportation Department says the rule change will affect approximately four million commercial drivers.

Many of the largest truck and bus companies, such as UPS, Wal-Mart, Peter Pan and Greyhound already have company policies in place banning their drivers from using hand-held phones.

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