Transportation Department proposes texting ban for commercial truck and buses

Legal news for government attorneys. A ban has been proposed to prohibit text messaging while driving interstate commercial trucks and buses.

The Transportation Department proposed a new law banning commercial trucks and buses from text messaging while driving.

Washington, D.C.—On Wednesday, March 31, 2010, the U.S. Transportation Department made strides in establishing a permanent ban on text messaging while driving interstate commercial trucks and buses. The proposed ban would apply to buses and trucks over 10,000 pounds and aims to reduce distractions that lead to crashes, as reported by The New York Times.

The Transportation Department reported, 5,870 people have been killed and 515,000 others were injured in crashes connected to distracted drivers in 2008. As the popularity of navigation systems, cell phones and mobile electronics has grown, safety advocates and government officials have pressed for tighter regulations and laws to avoid distracted driving. Ray LaHood, the Transportation Department secretary, announced the proposed ban on an interim basis in January.

Support for the ban has been flooding in by trucking and bus industry officials, who have already imposed such policies within their companies. The proposed plan does not apply to onboard devices, which allow dispatchers to send text messages to truck drivers. Industry officials stated most of the onboard devices have special components, which prevent their use while the vehicle is moving.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported, drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds for every 6 seconds of text messaging. If a motorist were traveling at 55 mph, a football field length would pass without the motorist even looking up at the roadway.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for government lawyers.