Commercial truckers and bus drivers banned from texting while driving

January 28, 2010

The federal government formally banned truckers and commercial bus drivers from texting while driving on Tuesday.

The announcement was made by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. LaHood calls the ban a “strong message,” adding “We don’t merely expect you to share the road responsibly with other travelers – we require you to do so.”

After Tuesday’s announcement, even reading a text message while driving will be a federal safety offense. Violating the ban could put a commercial driver at risk of losing their authority to operate their vehicle and could net them a fine up to $2,750 for each offense.

The new rules also prohibit reading while driving, but do not place a ban on talking on cellphones will driving or talking on dispatching devices.

Tuesday’s announcement comes on the heels of a similar ban imposed last month when President Obama ordered approximately 3 million federal workers to keep off their cellphones while behind the wheel.

Texas currently has a number of laws against texting while driving, including a ban on texting by school bus drivers, by drivers under the age of 18 and by drivers in a school zone or those who are transporting a child.

Jennifer Smith, a Texas native and founder of FocusDriven, a nonprofit organization dedicated to campaigning for bans on texting and talking on cellphones while driving, has gone on the record to express her satisfaction with the latest texting ban.

Says smith, “This shows that the federal government is taking this seriously. The dangers exist, and there need to be safety measures involved.”

According to the press secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, more comprehensive rules, include a ban on texting by school bus drivers, will follow in the months to come.

The Dallas Morning News published a piece on the new ban, including a look at how it will affect Texas.

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