Gov't set to ban texting by truck, bus drivers

Mar 31, 2010 By KEN THOMAS , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- The Transportation Department on Wednesday proposed a ban on text messaging at the wheel by interstate truck and bus drivers, following up on its call to reduce distractions that lead to crashes.

The proposal would make permanent an interim ban announced in January by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, applying to of buses and commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds. The drivers could face civil or criminal penalties.

The proposal "keeps our commitment to making our roads safer by reducing the threat of distracted driving," LaHood said.

As navigation systems, cell phones and mobile electronics have become ubiquitous in cars and trucks, safety advocates and the government have pushed for restrictions. The Transportation Department reports that 5,870 people were killed and 515,000 injured in 2008 in crashes connected to , often involving mobile devices or cell phones.

Trucking and bus industry officials support the texting ban and many companies already have policies in place against texting behind the wheel. The government prohibition doesn't apply to onboard devices that allow dispatchers to send text messages to truck drivers, but industry officials say most of the devices have mechanisms preventing their use while a truck is moving.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia already prohibit all drivers from texting behind the wheel, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Another nine states restrict texting by novice drivers.

The government, industry and safety organizations have found common ground on texting and driving, concerned that typing out a message on a mobile device can take a driver's eyes off the road for a dangerous number of seconds.

Research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 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, that means the driver is traveling the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Texting has grown exponentially in recent years and become a favorite form of communication among teens. The wireless industry association CTIA reported that the number of text messages sent by its members' customers increased from 32.6 billion in the first six months of 2005 to 740 billion in the first six months of 2009.

John Walls, a CTIA spokesman, said the group supports a ban on texting for all drivers: "Those are two completely incompatible behaviors - texting and safe driving."

The public has until May 3 to comment on the Transportation Department's proposed ban, and after reviewing comments the department can issue its new rule.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order directing federal employees not to use text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment, effective at the end of last year.

Congress has also shown interest in curbing distracted driving. Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey have introduced legislation to urge states to pass laws banning texting by all drivers. The bill would reduce federal highway aid by 25 percent to states that fail to enact bans.

Explore further: Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

More information: Transportation Department: http://www.distraction.gov

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ford backs bill to ban texting while driving

Sep 11, 2009

(AP) -- Ford said Thursday it backs federal legislation pressuring states to ban texting while driving in an effort to reduce driver distractions that could lead to accidents.

Stop sign ahead for texting while driving?

Oct 01, 2009

(AP) -- Targeting text messaging behind the wheel, the Obama administration plans to offer recommendations to address the growing traffic safety risk of distracted driving and the use of mobile devices by ...

New Jersey Lawmakers May Ban Texting While Driving

Mar 27, 2007

New Jersey drivers who insist on sending text messages on their cell phones or personal digital assistants may find themselves on the wrong side of the law if legislators approve a new bill.

Administration takes aim at distracted driving

Sep 30, 2009

(AP) -- Driving while distracted is a growing peril in a nation reluctant to put down its cell phones and handheld devices even behind the wheel, the Obama administration declared on Wednesday. Officials said Congress and ...

LaHood calls summit on distracted driving

Aug 04, 2009

(AP) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday he will convene a summit of experts to figure out what to do about driver cell phone use and texting, practices that studies - and a growing number of accidents - ...

Recommended for you

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

19 hours ago

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

Apr 18, 2014

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

Apr 16, 2014

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...