January 3, 2012 is right around the corner. How will the new federal rule prohibiting commercial truck drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving affect you? With a hefty $2,750 fine for interstate truck drivers caught using hand-held cellphones, and $11,000 for employers that do not require their drivers to use hands-free devices, will it make you change your ways?

Of course, there are mixed opinions on the merits and potential impact this new ruling will have. I eventually believe the new ruling will have a positive effect, much in the same way as requiring all drivers to wear safety belts has. As well, if there is a continued decrease in the frequency of commercial truck accidents, it could ultimately lead to premium savings for insurance buyers.

One major flaw of the new ruling is that it instructs drivers to pull over and park their trucks to make a hand-held call, where it should’ve required the driver to find a rest stop or other designated parking area in which to make his/her call. Now we may see drivers merely parking on the shoulder of the highway, becoming an even greater hazard.

I’m not sure how much safer our highways will be with truck drivers banned from hand-held cellphones when a million things are distractions on the road, no matter what you’re driving. Texting or talking on the phone while driving, eating, changing the radio station, adjusting the air-conditioning, putting on make-up, reading, all are distractions that in mere seconds can result in tragedy.

Let’s all do what we can to be safe out there and hold ourselves accountable.