US Bans Texting for Commercial Truck & Bus Drivers

Posted on Thu, 2010-01-28 00:00
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Effective January 27, 2010, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has prohibited texting by drivers of commercial vehicles including large trucks and buses.  Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to US$2,750. Commercial motor vehicles are defined by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as those vehicles with a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 4,536 kg or more.

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 (approximately 88.5 kph), a driver busy with texting can travel the approximate length of an American football field (91.4 m), without looking at the road, according to the FMCSA. 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 it will announce in the coming months. Note that the regulation prohibiting texting does not apply to the use of cell phones for voice communication, but individual states may have regulations regarding cell phone use that do apply (for a table outlining cell phone laws in individual US states, click here).   FMCSA also specifically notes that this regulation does not prohibit the use of dispatching tools and fleet management systems. This means that the use of CB radios and in-cab GPS, satellite and other dispatch communications technologies are not impacted.

To read the regulatory guidance on this prohibition, see the US Federal Register notice of January 27, 2010 (49 CFR Chapter III). US DOT also maintains a distracted driving website at www.distraction.gov

BCTA will provide updates on additional US regulations as more information becomes available.

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