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WASHINGTON DC – On Wednesday, March 31, 2010 The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced its proposal to make its interim ban on texting while driving permanent for commercial truck drivers and bus drivers across the U.S. The ban applies to drivers of interstate commercial trucks and buses over 10,000 pounds and was first put into effect on an interim basis in January, 2010 by the Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood.

DOT ban on texting while driving for commercial trucks and buses likely to become permanent

If approved, the permanent ban could cause truck and bus drivers to face civil or criminal penalties if caught texting behind the wheel. The DOT said that truck drivers and bus drivers may be cited for texting while operating a commercial vehicle and may also face a fine up to $2,750.

The ban does not apply to onboard devices that allow dispatchers to send text messages to truck drivers, although most of these devices are equipped with a means to prevent their use if a truck is moving.

Government agencies don’t won’t get much of an argument from industry and safety organizations on this topic. It seems that there is a lot of agreement on texting while driving. There is a common concern that drivers who type out a message on a mobile device can cause them to take their eyes off the road for a dangerous number of seconds.

Research from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) demonstrates that drivers who text while driving take their eyes off the road almost 5 seconds out of every 6 an average. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver will travel the length of a football field (including the end zones), without looking at the road. The FMCSA also points out that drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers.

The ban has garnered support among many trucking and bus industry officials, who say that they support the ban, and that they have already put in place policies of their own against texting while driving. For example, the ATA (American Trucking Associations) strongly supports the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal of a permanent rule to prohibit text messaging on handheld devices by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers. In a recent press release by the ATA (PR Newswire), it applauds Transportation Secretary LaHood for his ongoing dedication to combating distracted driving.

The Transportation Department said it will take public comments until May 3, 2010. The DOT plans to review the comments, after which time the interim ban could then become permanent.

Truck accident attorneys, Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP, state that there are a variety of factors that can cause a trucking accident. Read more about common causes of truck accidents.

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