Advertisement
Find a Car
Go!

Texting Ban For Commercial Drivers A Bellwether For Full Ban?

Follow Bengt

Capitol Coach Works Bus

Capitol Coach Works Bus

Truck or bus drivers who text while driving a commercial vehicle could be fined up to $2,750 as part of civil or criminal penalties.

That's what U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today, explicitly prohibiting texting for commercial vehicle drivers.

But it's not a new rule. "This is no new law, no new regulation," clarifies Gerald Donaldson, senior research director at Advocates for Highway Safety. "It's a regulatory interpretation of an existing provision."

Because commercial vehicles involve interstate commerce, the federal government has full jurisdiction—and as Donaldson puts it, "a stick here that they can't use for fifty individual state governments."

While the federal government's jurisdiction over texting for passenger-vehicle drivers on a national level is still uncertain, it's "using the commercial area as an exemplar," Donaldson says, and an extension to all drivers might not be so far away.

Texting behind the wheel

Texting behind the wheel

Enlarge Photo

Danger, danger

"He is taking a specific device and behavior that has been shown to be dangerous" and making a move to enforce it, explained Donaldson. "Handheld texting has been shown to be a manual, visual, and cognitive diversion."

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) research, drivers who text while driving take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds out of every six seconds while texting, which at 55 mph ends up being the length of a football field. And according to research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the risk of a crash or near-crash while driving a truck is more than 23 times higher when texting than when not.

Nearly 6,000 people were killed—and more than 500,000 injured—in crashes in 2008 alone due to a distracted or inattentive driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations already prevent any activities in the cab—while driving—that jeopardize the safety of other motorists. And on December 30, 2009, a federal ban went into effect banning all federal employees from texting while driving government-owned vehicles or equipment.

Donaldson said his organization considers the announcement a positive step toward making the roadways safer, describing LaHood's action as "just, firm, and vigorous."


Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (12)
  1. This will save lives and I am grateful that they are doing this. Havent we all seen the hidden camera videos of texting bus drivers?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. If the feds can make use wear our seatbelt, they can probably do this. At least in this case it really would keep other drivers safer.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. I believe it about bus drivers (and seen the videos) but commercial truckers are usually pretty responsible unless they're totally sleep deprived. I'm much more worried about idiot 16-year-old girls (and theyre boyfriends) who are texting in their Honda Civics while going 90 mph up the freeway without any frickin idea what they['re doing. Not to mention their soccer moms. Pick on the clueless "REAL PEOPLE' drivers, the truckers know a hell of a lot more about how to drive.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. glad to see this ruling. about as close to a no-brainer as there can be. understand someone who is concerned with federal encroachment, my whine. i can only say to those folks, common sense.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. Here Here.. texting while driving is already banned in most countries. About time the U.S. caught up.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. we likely are all guilty of doing this at some point but its a terrible terrible habbit
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. It's a proven fact that texting while driving is hazardous - so it's about time they did something like that.
    Only question is how are they going to enforce it...
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  8. What I find interesting is that it raises the possibility for automakers and tech developers to create SMS-jamming devices that could prevent even the possibility of texting behind the wheel. (Not unlike Sync and other telematics devices which turn off certain functions when a car is in motion to minimize driver distraction.)
    _
    Of course, similar devices intended to jam cell phones in movies, churches, and other locales have caused quite an uproar. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out as a dialogue between the government, developers, and the general public.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  9. Texting is as dangerous as drunk driving. Enforcing it will be an issue, but if one gets caught texting and causing an accident, the penalty should be huge. I don't think this is the automakers' responsibility either. Why should the automakers use their resources to combat irresponsible and dangerous behavior that has nothing to do with their vehicles.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  10. If penalizing bus or truck drivers who are text massaging while operating a commercial vehicle is not a new law, rather an interpretation of a current provision, U.S. Transportation should have enforced it sooner. Hopefully, strict federal laws covering other instruments of driver distraction will also be made not just to support this rule, but also to promote responsible driving.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  11. OK...we all know that it is dangerous to text and drive; not only commercial drivers, but ALL drivers. I drive a big rig and don't and won't text while driving, but I have to disagree with my hands free headset...I still have both hands on the wheel and I know when not to be on the phone at all. Give us a break...someone needs to look in most cars that drive up and down the road...these people are texting or have their phones slammed up to their head while driving in hazardous road conditions, heavy traffic, and thru road construction. I see it all day long from a birds eye view!!!
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  12. Now a days there are lots of truck and bus accident taking place due to drivers texting or talking on phone while driving. Those drivers even dont think that if accident takes place many people can die or can seriously get injured or even assest of some poor person can get destroyed.I dont think only $2950 fine should be enforced its my personal request that if any of the drivers are caught texting or talking on phone while driving please take a strict decision against them.
    All the best for making more great decision.

    Regards.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Try My Showroom
Save cars, write notes, and comparison shop with hi-res photos.
Add your first car
Advertisement
Take Us With You!
   
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
Advertisement

 
© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.