Truckers, bus drivers and other commercial drivers are prohibited from texting while behind the wheel under a new federal rule announced Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Commercial operators who text while driving may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of as much as
"It's the most difficult part, the enforcement," LaHood acknowledged in a news briefing Tuesday morning. Because many truckers sit some four feet above eye level, it's hard for officers to see whether they are texting.
"We're at the starting gate on this," LaHood said, adding that while critics once thought it wouldn't be possible to curb drunken driving or get people to use seat belts, "now 90 percent of the people use seat belts."
The new rule is part of a distracted driving safety initiative the Obama administration has been pursuing, with LaHood convening a two-day summit on the issue in September and creating an advocacy group, FocusDriven, this month. FocusDriven is a nonprofit that supports the families of victims of distracted driving.
Some trucking companies said they already forbid texting while driving, as well as talking on hand-held cell phones. Both practices are illegal in
"I'm in favor of any regulation that encourages anyone to drive a vehicle undistracted," said
"When anyone is behind the wheel, they need to pay attention to driving, and driving only. I'm sure they will come up with laws for individual drivers, too, but they always target truckers first because of our high visibility," Osofsky said.
"Drivers are already told as part of their orientation as
Drivers who text are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than undistracted drivers, according to research by 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 when texting, according to the agency's research.
SOURCE: Contra Costa Times. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (c) 2010.