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Amarillo, Texas - A new year is bringing a new law to roadways across the country and it aims to keep you safer when at the wheel.


Today a federal law went into effect that prohibits truckers from using hand held cell phones.    But some say the effort to increase safety could bring big problems for drivers of big rigs.

When you're behind the wheel of an 80 foot long vehicle, carrying as much as 40 tons, using your cell phone simultaneously can turn your truck into a lethal weapon.   

Truck Driver Angel Cruz says, "People that drive while using their cell phones or texting are just a hazard on the road."

Which is why drivers of large commercial vehicles can no longer text, dial, or even hold a phone when in motion.   

Under the new law, truck drivers can still talk on the phone using a hands-free mobile device or headset like a Bluetooth, as long as calls can be made or answered with a single touch.

For some, following the new rules won't be much trouble.

Cruz says, "I don't use my cell phone when I drive anyway. I use a Bluetooth, so I don't have to hold it."    

But for others, it won't be so easy.

Truck driver Virgil Asan says, "I need to get in touch with my dispatcher and a lot of us don't have ear pieces and some of the ear pieces don't work that well. They don't cancel out the noise."


While the law aims to prevent fatal accidents caused by the number one distraction for drivers, pulling over on the side of the road to use that cell phone may bring new dangers.


Asan explains, "I have to stop and look and then pull over. It takes some time to pull over a truck and then start all over again."

Other say enforcing the ban could be pretty difficult, but the Texas DPS says it's just like cracking down on anything else.

Trooper Gabriel Medrano says, "It's going to be the same thing with a commercial motor vehicle, you have to train your eyes to look for that cell phone either up by their ear or in their hand as they're driving down the road."

DPS troopers are not yet enforcing the law in Texas, until the state adopts it into the administrative rules.      

If caught using a phone while on the road, drivers can face fines up to $2,700 and could even lose their licenses.

Posted 5:29 PM

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