Over a year ago, trucking industry leaders called the nation's attention to the dangers of text messaging and cell phone use on the road. ATA recommended restricting texting and cell phone use by all drivers. While many trucking companies already restrict their drivers' use of these technologies, the rest of America is just waking up to the dangers of distracted driving.
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) acknowledged that distracted driving plagues all motorists, not just commercial drivers. Continuing its leadership on this issue, ATA's Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly to back Sen. Schumer's effort to ban texting. His legislation would require states to enact and enforce a law that "except in the event of an emergency, prohibits an operator of a moving motor vehicle from writing, sending or reading a text message using a hand-held mobile telephone" or other personal electronic device. The bill, the Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act, was introduced also by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).
This legislation was drafted after Virginia Tech researchers found that drivers are 23 times more likely to get into a crash when text messaging. The bill defines a "hand-held mobile telephone" as mobile telephone or other 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.
ATA representatives met with senior transportation officials, elected officials, advocacy groups, law enforcement representatives and academics at the recent Distracted Driving Summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in Washington, D.C. There Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he is pursuing three rulemakings banning or restricting texting and cell phone use by transportation workers. One of the proposals will ban "text messaging altogether and restrict the use of cell phones by truck and interstate bus operators," DOT said. ATA welcomes the opportunity to work with Secretary LaHood on a comprehensive approach for all drivers.
Driver behavior as the No. 1 cause of vehicle crashes. In addition to restricting the use of non-integrated technologies while the vehicle is in motion, ATA's progressive safety agenda also includes:
- Uniform commercial drivers license testing standards;
- A CDL graduated licensing study;
- Additional parking facilities for trucks
- Governing large truck speeds at 65 mph or less
- A national maximum 65mph speed limit for all vehicles
- Strategies to increase the use of seat belts
- A national car-truck driver behavior improvement program
- Increased use of red light cameras and automated speed enforcement
- Graduated licensing standards in all states for non-commercial teen drivers
- More stringent laws to reduce drinking and driving
We're pleased to have the support and leadership of Secretary LaHood and the DOT as we eliminate distractions, improve driver performance and make highways safer for all motorists.