Commercial truck drivers
banned from texting
while behind the wheel
Jan 26, 2010 9:21 AM
Drivers of commercial trucks and buses are now banned from sending text messages via mobile phones while driving, according to federal guidelines issued by US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” LaHood said in a statement. “This is an important safety step, and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”
Effective immediately, truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles are subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750, according to the Department of Transportation. No specifics were provided on how the ban will be enforced.
La Hood has focused on cracking down on distracted drivers since taking office in 2009. He convened a two-day distracted-driving summit in Washington DC in September. The website www.distraction.gov was launched recently to raise awareness of the perils of distracted driving. LaHood and National Safety Council President Janet Froetscher recently announced the formation of FocusDriven, a non-profit advocacy group that supports families of distracted driving victims, along the lines of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says drivers take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every six seconds while texting. FMCSA studies show drivers who text are more than 20 times more likely to be in an accident than non-distracted drivers.
Nineteen states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam, have enacted laws banning texting while driving any motor vehicle. Six states, plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, ban the use of handheld devices while driving.
In 2008, nearly 6,000 people died in accidents related to distracted drivers, and more than 500,000 were injured.
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