Push-to-Talk Devices Allowed for Commercial Drivers

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JEFFERSON CITY - A revision to a new law on Tuesday will grant commercial vehicle drivers the ability to use push-to-talk devices while driving.

Truck drivers in Kingdom City have mixed emotions about the revision. Bradley Oshlee said the mobile device law is equivalent to the seat belt law.

"It's just like seat belts. You slap your seat belt on real quick, and they won't know you didn't have it on," said Oshlee.

Iowa resident Mark Britcher travels for 360 days out of the year. He said he sees accidents everyday, and more enforcement is necessary. "It's a dangerous deal on the road. You'd be surprised what you see," Britcher began.

Britcher uses a hands-free bluetooth device to keep his focus on the road. He said he sees other drivers get distracted all the time.

"You see people watching television on the road, texting and just not paying attention or being safe," Britcher added. "They are putting in place new safety regulations, and hands-free is one of them. Personally, I think it's an awesome thing."

Push-to-talk devices include mobile communications in which the driver does not reach for, dial or hold the actual mobile telephone in his or her hand while driving. The driver should only have to touch one button from the normal seated position to answer the mobile device. Officials say this type of equipment prevents the driver from taking his or her eyes off of the road.

Captain J. Tim Hull said the revision reinforces the importance of focusing on the road while driving. While the law applies to commercial vehicle operators, Hull said its a rule all drivers should follow.

"Anything that distracts you from the full-time job of driving is dangerous. If you have to make a phone call, read a text or send a text, no matter what car you are driving, pull over and do that," Hull said.

The United States Department of Transportation enforced a law effective January 3 that strictly prohibited interstate commercial truck and bus drivers from conducting voice communication using hand-held mobile devices.

It comes as a part of the joint rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials to address distracted driving. Missouri State Highway Patrol said the failure to follow the new law will result in tickets and fines.