Safety & Accident

Commercial Drivers Banned from Texting While Driving

January 28, 2010

WASHINGTON - Effective Jan. 26, all drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses are prohibited from texting while driving or face fines up to $2,750, announced the Department of Transportation. The prohibition is the latest in a series of actions the DOT has taken to combat distracted driving.

"We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."

"Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab," said Anne Ferro, administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). "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."

FMCSA research 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.  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, FMCSA is also working on additional regulatory measures that will be announced in the coming months.

During the September 2009 Distracted Driving Summit, the Secretary announced the Department's plan to pursue this regulatory action, as well as rulemakings to reduce the risks posed by distracted driving. President Obama also signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment.  Federal employees were required to comply with the ban starting on December 30, 2009. 

The regulatory guidance on this announcement is now listed in the Federal Register.

 

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