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New Law Affecting Mobile Device Use by Commercial Drivers Does Not Include Two-Way Radio Use

(Suwanee, GA) Professional Land mobile two-way radios are not restricted by new rules of the Department of Transportation (DOT) banning mobile telephone use by commercial motor vehicle (CMV*) drivers. The ban went into effect January 3, 2012, as a result of DOT’s multi-year campaign against “distracted driving” and follows earlier texting restrictions. Partial or total bans on texting while driving are law in over forty states, and the DOT rule applies to those operating a CMV pursuant to a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The new DOT rules impose strict financial and civil penalties for drivers who use any hand-held mobile device that has a telephone number, using the FCC definition for “mobile telephone.” The new rule clarifies that holding, dialing and reaching for the mobile telephone is no longer acceptable. Two-way radios which are not licensed as Commercial Radio Service (CMRS) facilities are not considered mobile telephone devices under this law. The ban does include, however, use of the Push-to-Talk feature on a mobile telephone. The theory is that the Push-To-Talk feature on a mobile telephone uses commercial mobile radio services to send and receive voice communications. The ban does not include initiation, answering or ending a call on a mobile telephone by touching a button from the seated driving position and while restrained by a seat belt. Violations will incur federal civil penalties of up to $27,750 for each offense and multiple offenses can lead to driver disqualification. Kenwood regulatory counsel Chris Imlay suggested that despite this clarification from DOT, it is important to check your land mobile radio licenses. If the station class code includes a “C” classification — for example, FB2C — then the station is classified as Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) and radios under that license are considered interconnected to the telephone network and could be considered restricted under the DOT rule for CMV drivers. Kenwood USA, Communications Sector, is a worldwide manufacturer of analog and digital two-way radios, including P25 compliant and NEXEDGE® radios that use the NXDN® protocol. Kenwood provides complete custom systems, mobiles and portables for critical infrastructure, public safety, government, as well as, business and industry. For detailed information, call Kenwood USA at 1-800-950-5005 or visit us at *Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) means a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the motor vehicle— (1) Has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds), whichever is greater; or(2) Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater; or(3) Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or (4) Is of any size and is used in the transportation of hazardous materials as defined in this section. Source: US Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

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