The banning of texting, and the use of cell phones in a moving vehicle, is something I predicted would happen in an earlier blog. My prediction has come to pass and the article reporting the complete ban on texting for truck drivers is posted below:
The U.S. bans truckers, bus drivers from texting while driving
By Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post Staff Writer – Tuesday, January 26, 2010; 1:22 PM
The government Tuesday formally barred truckers and bus drivers from sending text messages while behind the wheel, putting the federal imprimatur on a prohibition embraced by many large trucking and transportation companies.
"We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important safety step, and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."
LaHood has made the effort to curtail driver distractions a centerpiece of his tenure as the nation’s top transportation official. Some saw his announcement as a step that might ultimately fuel a push to ban cellphone use by all drivers.
LaHood’s announcement followed a study released in July by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute that found that when truckers text, they are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near miss.
Although both houses of Congress are considering bills restricting texting and 19 states have banned the practice, LaHood said existing rules on truckers and bus drivers give him authority to issue the prohibition. LaHood said drivers of commercial vehicle caught texting could be fined up to $2,750.
"It’s an important first step," said Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, a coalition of state highway safety directors. "It’s will start a cultural shift away from texting and cellphone use. We’d like to see a ban on all cellphone use by drivers of commercial vehicles."
Texting and cellphone use have been banned in many major commercial fleets, including FedEx’s 43,000 vehicles and the 100,000 used by United Parcel Service.
Enforcement of LaHood’s ban is so problematic that it might prove more symbolic than practical. "The enforcement problem here is enormous," said Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "It’s not clear this is going to make any difference on the road in terms of crashes."
Rader said the challenge for police officers is daunting. "How does anybody spot a trucker or any driver on the road who is using some device that they’re holding below window level?" Rader said. Vernon Betkey, chairman of the GHSA and a retired Maryland State Police trooper, acknowledged the challenge and said he hoped federally funded demonstration projects in Connecticut and New York might develop better enforcement tools.
"Right now, law enforcement has to be somewhat creative," Betkey said. "A driver constantly looking down while they’re driving might be a clue, or you might have some lane departures."
Last year, President Obama banned federal employees from texting while driving government vehicles and from texting in their own cars if they use government-issued phones or are on official business.
With LaHood leading the effort, supported by mounting evidence of the danger, Adkins predicted that this year could see an effort to ban cellphone use by all drivers. "At some point we’ll have to address that issue," Adkins said. "We think 2010 will be the year when we do something about distracted driving. We can’t remember a secretary every taking the issue of highway safety so seriously."
Statistics released two weeks ago by the National Safety Council indicated that 28 percent of traffic accidents occur when drivers are talking on cellphones or sending text messages. The nonprofit council said that texting was to blame for 200,000 of the crashes, while cellphone conversations caused 1.4 million. Those numbers come in the context of federal statistics that show that about 812,000 drivers are using cellphones at any given moment during daylight hours.
In announcing the ban Tuesday, LaHood pointed to data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last year, which show that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every six seconds while texting. At 55 mph, he said, that means that during that time, the driver travels the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road.
Click here for the article.