NRP has a story from the Associated Press that the federal government has banned texting while driving interstate commercial vehicles:
The prohibition, which applies to drivers of interstate buses and trucks over 10,000 pounds, is effective immediately, the department said in a statement. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750, the department said.
This is welcome news. The League’s upcoming report on distracted driving highlights the research on texting that shows that texting while driving a car can increase the risk of crashing by eight times, the risk increases 23 times when driving a heavy truck:
Distractions lead to crashes and deaths. During a study by NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI,) driver inattention led to 78 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes. Distractions are deadly too. According to the federal database that tracks traffic deaths, Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS,) in 2008, Driver distraction was involved in at least 16% of all fatal crashes — up from 12% in 2007. Driver distraction led to at least 5,870 fatalities. The problem is particularly acute among younger drivers – 39% of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were under 30 years old (Magladry, Office of Highway Safety, Summit slide). These numbers rely on police reports, which means they underestimate the frequency that distracted driving leads to crashes.
A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that found Professional truck drivers who sent text messages while driving are 23 times at greater risk of crashing or nearly crashing than when not texting. A study using a driving simulator at the University of Utah found that drivers who text are eight times more likely to crash. The risks, however, are not limited to text messaging. Studies show that the likelihood of a crash quadruples while talking on a phone – with little to no improvement while using hands-free devices. In 2006, the researchers at the University of Utah confirmed an earlier finding and concluded “the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk” at a 0.08% blood alcohol level. For dozens of studies on the risks, visit the National Safety Council Website: http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/KeyResearch.aspx.
See our previous posts on Oprah’s campaign against distracted driving and extensive distracted driving resources. Also read how an 18-year-old was just sentenced 60 months in prison in Washington’s first vehicular homicide conviction due to text-messaging. The driver hit and killed a cyclist in a bike lane while texting his girlfriend. (The Columbian)
League Policy Director
Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.