Truck and bus drivers now face fines of up to $2,750 if they’re caught texting while driving. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the new rule today and said it will be effective immediately. He called it a “big step” toward punishing motorists whose driving-while-texting is putting lives at risk. “We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said Secretary LaHood. “This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”
LaHood was joined at a Washington D.C. press conference by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, who noted that those who text while driving driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers.
“Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab,” said Anne Ferro, administrator for the 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.”
One trucking association said it supports the new rule, though it voiced some concerns that there could be “unintended consequences.”
“We support where they are going, but not how they got there,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Making their action effective immediately bypasses normal regulatory rule-making processes. Those processes allow actions to be vetted for unintended consequences, as well as potential implementation and enforcement problems.” Star Ledger.