ATA Applauds Proposed Commercial Driver Texting Ban

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) commends U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his ongoing dedication to combating distracted driving. ATA said it strongly endorses the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) proposal of a permanent rule to prohibit text messaging on handheld devices by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers.

“Improving highway safety is one of the trucking industry’s top priorities and ATA greatly appreciates DOT’s commitment to instituting rules that encourage safe driving behaviors,” said President and CEO Bill Graves. “Prohibiting the use of handheld wireless devices by commercial drivers to send or receive text messages while driving is an important next step to further the actions our industry has already taken.”

Many ATA member fleets have adopted policies designed to reduce distractions while driving, including using in-cab communication devices with mechanisms that “lock out” the device or system while the vehicle is in motion.

“We hope the administration will look to expand the proposed ban on texting on handheld devices while driving beyond commercial vehicle drivers,” Graves said.

ATA supports states’ efforts to ban texting by automobile drivers and will continue to work with affiliated state trucking associations and stakeholder groups to make that happen. Over the last 5 years, the truck-involved fatality rate has declined 22 percent, the truck-involved injury rate has declined 25 percent, and both are at record lows, noted ATA.

In October 2008, ATA adopted a policy that supports the safe use of technologies and encourages drivers and/or motor carriers to consider a range of policies and safeguards intended to reduce, minimize, and/or eliminate driver distractions that may be caused by the increased use of electronic technologies — like global positioning systems and cellular phones — during the operation of all types of motor vehicles. ATA’s policy recommends that manufacturers and others adopt awareness, training, and safety policies during the use of such technologies — unless they are already regulated — during the operation of a motor vehicle.

ATA’s Executive Committee voted in October 2009 to support the Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act, which would withhold federal funds from states that do not ban texting by all drivers. The bill defines a mobile telephone as a hand-held portable electronic communication device with which a user engages in a call or writes, sends, or reads a text message using at least one hand. It does not include a vehicle-integrated, voice-activated device.

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