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Feds outlaw texting for commercial drivers

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On Jan. 26 U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a federal ban on texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses. The prohibition is effective immediately and is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Department of Transportation to combat distracted driving.

Under the new rule, truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.

“We want to make it crystal clear to operators and their employers that texting while driving is unsafe,” said Anne Ferro, Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

FMCSA research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every six seconds while texting.  At 55 miles per hour, that means the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road. 

Drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers.  Because of the safety risks associated with the use of electronic devices while driving, FMCSA is also working on additional regulatory measures that will be announced in the coming months.

Last year, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment.  Federal employees were required to comply with the ban starting on Dec. 30, 2009.

Follow Department of Transportation's work on combating distracted driving at www.distraction.gov.

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