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Ask a Trooper: Can truck drivers use 911 to report crimes?

Editor's note: The following is an "Ask a Trooper" column from Sergeant Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol.

Question: First let me thank you for the service that you provide. We also appreciate the column in the newspaper that answers questions for citizens. My question is this: A friend of mine told me that their nephew who is a trucker can't/won't report any illegal activities that he sees in his travels across the U.S. because if he reports something to 911, his cell phone has been blocked and he won't be able to use it until he has the phone company unblock it and he doesn't want to waste his time having this done.

I always thought that truckers were the eyes and ears for the police and they were supposed to report crimes if they see them happening. Is this true and if so why would that happen to truckers and not to other citizens who report crimes to 911? I'm thinking that the friend of mine misunderstood what she heard but wanted to know for sure. Thank you for your input on this subject.

Answer: First of all, thank you for the kind words. In reference to drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), they are not allowed to use cellphones while driving due to federal law and regulation (unlike our standard passenger vehicles). One of the exemptions is for emergency use which means calling "911". I'm not sure which company he drives for or their policy, but it seems like it would be a hassle to have to call in and report emergency (crash, driving complaint, etc...).

Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving also can be fined; however, they would be exempt as long as it's an emergency situation. Drivers are allowed to use "hands free" devices while driving as long as they have everything set up before putting the vehicle in motion. I agree with your statement that truck drivers are the "eyes and ears" of the highway to help law enforcement out if they see an emergency or something suspicious. They've been doing this for years and it goes along with the "If you see something, say something" message on reporting suspicious activity. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management wants every Minnesotan to know they have an opportunity -- in fact a responsibility -- to help keep their community safer and this includes our highways.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow - Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at,