WASHINGTON, D.C. — A recently-announced US ban on text messaging by commercial drivers has triggered mixed reaction from the trucking industry.
The ban, announced yesterday, goes into effect immediately. Truckers caught texting while driving could be subject of fines of up to US$2,750.
“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said US Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood. “This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) applauded the legislation.
“Texting on a handheld phone while driving substantially elevates the risk of being involved in a crash,” said ATA president, Bill Graves. “To promote highway safety, and further improve the trucking industry’s continually improving safety record and that of all commercial vehicles, ATA supports DoT’s action to ban the use of handheld wireless devices by commercial drivers to send or receive text messages while driving.”
Graves said the ATA would like to see the law extended to all motorists.
However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), representing independent truckers, said it had reservations about how the law came to be.
“We support where they are going, but not how they got there,” said OOIDA’s executive vice-president Todd Spencer. “Making their action effective immediately bypasses normal regulatory rulemaking processes. Those processes allow actions to be vetted for unintended consequences, as well as potential implementation and enforcement problems. We very much share in their goal, but their legal justification for taking immediate action raises many concerns.”
Nonetheless, OOIDA says it supports government efforts to prohibit motorists from texting while driving and also encourages law enforcement to better enforce existing laws regarding distracted driving.
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