Federal Texting Ban for Commercial Truck Drivers

In the latest in a series of actions to curb distracted driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced it is prohibiting truck and bus drivers from sending text messages while operating commercial vehicles. The ban, which is effective immediately, means that truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750, the DOT said. “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.† The DOT’s blog Fast Lane has more on this story. As of December 30, 2009, federal employees have been banned from texting while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment following an executive order signed by President Obama. At its Distracted Driving Summit last September, the DOT said it would pursue regulatory action as well as rulemakings to reduce the risks posed by distracted driving. The New York Times Bits blog notes that research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows that truckers who text are 23 times more likely to get into a crash or near-crash than truckers not texting. Insurers are monitoring this emerging issue. I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig  recently observed that the problem of distraction is not confined to cars, but part of a greater problem associated with “distracted equipment operation†. This is leading to an epidemic of occupational injuries and workers compensation claims, he warned. Check out I.I.I. information on cellphones and driving.

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