It’s official. Effective immediately, the Transportation Department says commercial bus and truck drivers will face stiff penalties if they text while driving. Drivers who don’t follow the new rules, will face criminal charges and a fine of nearly $3,000. So, why is the Transportation Department taking such drastic measures? It’s because of all those studies I’ve been telling you about. Including the one from Virginia Tech, that found that truckers were 23% more likely to get in a crash if they’re texting, and the one from the Traffic Safety Administration that found that 6,000 people die and another half-million are injured every year because of distracted drivers.
Because of that, most people support a ban on texting truckers. One group says the Transportation Department is going too far. The Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association is one of the largest groups of professional truckers in the US. They say that because the ban goes into effect immediately, we have no way of knowing if it’ll have some kind of negative impact. According to that driver’s association, the department should enforce the laws that are already on the books, instead of making new ones.
Cracking down on distracted driving has been a priority for Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, since he took office. He recently launched a website to raise awareness about texting and driving. You can find it at Distraction.gov. He also teamed with the National Safety Council to form a non-profit called “Focus Driven” that supports the families of people who’ve been killed by distracted drivers. He says the texting trucker ban is only the beginning. He’s planning on more legislation down the line.