DOT Bans Texting by Truckers; Penalties up to $2,750

On January 26th, 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a ban on texting. The ban goes into effect immediately because it is a reinterpretation of the law rather than a new law. Truck drivers who are caught texting while driving will be subject to civil and criminal penalties up to $2,750.

This new interpretation of the law is no surprise to anyone who drives a truck. We have been covering this story for months, so we knew it was coming. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration supports the new ban as does Driver Solutions.

We have always supported the ban on texting while operating a truck. However we think it should be for all drivers, not just drivers of commercial vehicles.

There has been considerable research done on drivers — not just truck drivers but all drivers — who text while driving. A study at Virginia Tech found that truck drivers who send text messages are nearly 23 times more likely to get into some type of accident than drivers who don’t use cell phones or other hand held devices while driving.

Another study conducted by the Pew Research Center said that a quarter of U.S. 16 and 17 year-olds who have cell phones text while driving. They also found, though not surprising, that almost half of Americans between ages 12 and 17 have been in cars where the driver was texting.

So it isn’t just truck drivers who should be banned from texting while driving. It is any and all operators of any vehicle on the road who should refrain from using such devices. At Driver Solutions, we teach our students about the driving safety and how using these kinds of devices while driving can be deadly to not just the driver but to others on the road as well.

We commend the U.S. Department of Transportation and Roy LaHood for banning the use of cell phones and other texting devices, but we encourage them to do more by banning all drivers from this hazardous and deadly behavior.