DOT Bans Texting by Truckers, Bus Drivers
The U.S. Department of Transportation banned texting by drivers of
commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses Jan. 26, effective
immediately. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles
may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road.
"Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab," FMSCA Administrator Anne Ferro said in a statement. "We want to make it crystal clear to operators and their employers that texting while driving is the type of unsafe activity that these regulations are intended to prohibit."
According to the FMCSA, drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers. Because of the safety risks associated with the use of electronic devices while driving, the FMCSA is also working on additional regulatory measures that will be announced in the coming months.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the months ahead DOT will propose additional legal remedies and develop tools that will allow federal authorities to coordinate with the law enforcement community, safety advocates, researchers and others to find new ways to raise awareness and bring an end to the dangers posed by distracted driving.
"This guidance is effective immediately. It applies to interstate truck drivers. It also applies generally to commercial bus or van drivers who carry more than eight passengers," LaHood said. "To put this dangerous behavior in perspective, researchers at Virginia Tech found that truck drivers who send text messages on a cell phone are about 23 times more likely to get into some type of crash or near-miss than drivers who keep their eyes on the road."