U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced federal guidance to expressly prohibit texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks, buses and vans. The prohibition is effective immediately and applies to interstate truck drivers and commercial bus and van drivers who carry more than eight passengers. The action is a result of the Department’s interpretation of standing rules. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (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 6 seconds while texting. 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. While the federal DOT no-texting rules apply only to commercial truck, van and bus drivers, many states and municipalities have also enacted, or are in the process of considering, legislation that would prohibit texting by all drivers.
To learn more about this requirement or if you have questions regarding these regulations, be sure to contact your employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.