Drivers of commercial trucks and buses will be prohibited from texting under federal guidelines that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is issuing Tuesday.
"We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," LaHood said in a statement. "This is an important safety step, and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."
The prohibition is effective immediately. 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 of Transportation said in a news release.
The release did not offer specifics on how the prohibition will be enforced.
Cracking down on distracted drivers has been a focus of LaHood's since he took office last year.
In September, he convened a two-day summit on the issue in Washington. The Department of Transportation recently launched the Web site distraction.gov to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. And this month, LaHood and National Safety Council President Janet Froetscher announced the creation of the advocacy group FocusDriven, a nonprofit that supports the families of distracted driving victims, modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every six seconds while texting. FMCSA research shows drivers who text are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than nondistracted drivers.
Nineteen states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam, have passed laws banning texting while driving. Six states, plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, ban the use of handheld devices while driving.
This regulation is long overdue. Now it is time for Idaho to join in passing legislation that will bar texting while operating a noncommercial motor vehicle to promote a safer environment on our public highways and streets.
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