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T & R Footnotes x May 2012 x 21 One of the TRAA panel members was Michael McGovern, of the Mc-Govern Law Firm in Knoxville, TN (mi-chael@themcgovernlawfirm.com), an attorney experienced in towing and recovery legal matters and well-known to the industry. (At the outset, McGovern was quick to acknowledge his heritage, as he was addressing the attendees on the most hallowed of Irish holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. He regaled the crowd with his recounting of his grandfather’s immigration from Ireland, and the extreme sacrifice that he was making to deny himself a num-ber of pints of Guinness for breakfast!) commercial license for at least 60 days, with a third violation resulting in a much longer suspension. McGovern implied by his com-ments that towing firms would not be targeted by law enforcement on this issue. He stated, “The manifest intent of the federal rule is to stop Commer-cial Motor Vehicle drivers from taking their eyes off the road for an excessive amount of time.” ON THE ROAD Eyes Off The Road Liability is another real danger in cell phone use BY SCOTT BURROWS A Blind Eye When questioned about the impact on the towing industry, specifically zeroing in on usage of cell phones See ON THE ROAD, page 22 Not A Target McGovern spent a bit of time reviewing both the federal regula-tion and its impact on motor carriers in general and tow truck operators in particular. While the regulation addresses only “interstate” carriers, the federal government has mandat-ed that each state must implement similar rules on language in existing legislation that limits the usage of cell phones in intrastate commerce by January of 2015. Penalties for violations of the fed-eral rules are exorbitant: drivers face a civil penalty of $2,750 for each and every offense. And there is a more serious ramification in that two viola-tions within a three-year period may result in the suspension of the driver’s The 15th annual TRAA Legislative & Leadership Conference was held in Alexandria, VA, in March. The overall theme of the weekend was “Getting Down To Business.” One of the fea-tured topics was the recently enacted ban on the usage of cellular tele-phones in commercial vehicles. On December 2, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its new rule restricting the use of cell phones by drivers of motor vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of over 10,001 pounds that are engaged in interstate com-merce. That rule can be reviewed in its entirety by going to http://www. gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/ pdf/2011-30749.pdf and reading the PDF file. One of the Northeast’s Largest Exclusive Distributors “Employees should be strongly encouraged to pull over or stop” www.esstrucksales.com 152 Floyd Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ 07003 danjr@esstrucksales.com Free Services For State Towing Associations Promote Yourself FREE! Put the Footnotes editor on your emailing list at bill@trfootnotes.com and send him your newsletter, press releases, successes and awards, and member events. We want to know more about your associa-tion, your members, and your activities. And so will the readers of Footnotes. Discounts Just For You Advertise your tow show or other event in any issue and you’ll get discounts offered only to Towing Associations: • Our very low 12-Month Rate for any ad, a big savings • Free Color for any ad, a $200 value Your Events Listed FREE! Simply go to www.trfootnotes.com anytime and list your Association activities for free under “Events.” Include your association meetings, tow shows, tow expos, open houses, and training and demos. Regional Inserts We offer Regional Print Advertising Inserts that focus your ads only in your special market area! This will give you the best value for your ad dollar. Your Services Listed FREE! Go to www.trfootnotes.com anytime and list all your member services for free in the online resource directory under “Listings.” Every category is there, including “Associations.” The basic listing is free; upgrades are available. Production Services We offer Associations print & online production services, including design, printing, mailing and emailing, and more. If you’d like to learn how we can help publish all or part of your newsletter for a reasonable rate, please call David! Contact David at 877-219-7734, ext. 1 or by email at david@trfootnotes.com

ON THE ROAD

Scott Burrows

<br /> Eyes Off The Road<br /> <br /> Liability is another real danger in cell phone use<br /> <br /> The 15th annual TRAA Legislative & Leadership Conference was held in Alexandria, VA, in March. The overall theme of the weekend was “Getting Down To Business.” One of the featured topics was the recently enacted ban on the usage of cellular telephones in commercial vehicles.<br /> <br /> On December 2, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its new rule restricting the use of cell phones by drivers of motor vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of over 10,001 pounds that are engaged in interstate commerce. That rule can be reviewed in its entirety by going to http://www. gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/ pdf/2011-30749.pdf and reading the PDF file.<br /> <br /> One of the TRAA panel members was Michael McGovern, of the Mc- Govern Law Firm in Knoxville, TN (michael@ themcgovernlawfirm.com), an attorney experienced in towing and recovery legal matters and well-known to the industry. (At the outset, McGovern was quick to acknowledge his heritage, as he was addressing the attendees on the most hallowed of Irish holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. He regaled the crowd with his recounting of his grandfather’s immigration from Ireland, and the extreme sacrifice that he was making to deny himself a number of pints of Guinness for breakfast!)<br /> <br /> Not A Target<br /> McGovern spent a bit of time reviewing both the federal regulation and its impact on motor carriers in general and tow truck operators in particular. While the regulation addresses only “interstate” carriers, the federal government has mandated that each state must implement similar rules on language in existing legislation that limits the usage of cell phones in intrastate commerce by January of 2015.<br /> <br /> Penalties for violations of the federal rules are exorbitant: drivers face a civil penalty of $2,750 for each and every offense. And there is a more serious ramification in that two violations within a three-year period may result in the suspension of the driver’s commercial license for at least 60 days, with a third violation resulting in a much longer suspension.<br /> <br /> McGovern implied by his comments that towing firms would not be targeted by law enforcement on this issue. He stated, “The manifest intent of the federal rule is to stop Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers from taking their eyes off the road for an excessive amount of time.”<br /> <br /> A Blind Eye<br /> When questioned about the impact on the towing industry, specifically zeroing in on usage of cell phones by tow truck drivers, he felt that law enforcement and the Department of Transportation “would turn a ‘blind eye’ to cell phone usage, in a co-operative effort to work with, instead of against, tow truck operators.”<br /> <br /> In a recent column in another industry publication, McGovern questioned whether this new rule will “… have a measureable impact on highway safety.” The success of any regulation will depend entirely on the level of enforcement by police agencies, he said, and until the troopers are denied their own use of cell phones, they probably won’t be looking too hard at the supportive men and women who provide emergency towing for motorists and truckers.<br /> <br /> Nevertheless, liability for an accident related to cell phone use by a driver is still a threat to employers. Having a written policy or procedure may help protect your company from liability issues — the federal rules are very clear that the regulators intend to hold employers accountable.<br /> <br /> Need A Policy<br /> It is then imperative that each employee understands the company’s stance on cell phone use; it was suggested at the conference to have them sign and agree to comply with the written company policy. If your company conducts regular employee training sessions, you may want to include this topic in your next discussion.<br /> <br /> Attorney Michael McGovern<br /> Even if the federal ban is not enforced against towers, employees must understand the safety hazards associated with cell-phone use while under way, and employers must effectively communicate these hazards to their drivers. To avoid liability, towing companies should prohibit employee use of cell phones while driving.<br /> <br /> Safety must be the first priority. If a call must be placed or received, employees should be “strongly encouraged” to pull over or stop the vehicle. Even with the Bluetooth hands-free technology, many a driver will be distracted from his primary responsibility — maintaining control of the vehicle!

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