WASHINGTON, D.C. — Texting truckers have garnered a lot of attention in the mainstream media over the past week, after a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found that truckers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than an undistracted driver.
The study found that a driver’s eyes can be averted from the roadway for five seconds out of a six-second window while texting. That’s enough time for a vehicle to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph. The study went on to suggest that texting while driving should be banned.
Also according to the same study, a truck driver is 5.9 times more likely to be involved in an accident while dialing a mobile phone compared to a passenger car driver which is 2.8 times more likely to crash while undertaking the same chore.
When reaching for an electronic device, a trucker is 6.7 times more likely to crash while a car driver is just 1.4 times more likely to be in an accident, the study reported.
As news reports highlighted the risks of texting and driving (with many of them focusing on the elevated risks truck drivers face), federal legislation was introduced in the US to put an end to texting and driving. The Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting (ALERT) by Drivers Act of 2009 was tabled to create federal penalties against states that don’t make texting and driving illegal.
The proposed legislation was welcomed by the American Trucking Associations, provided it doesn’t include integrated fleet management systems.
“While ATA supports the objectives of the proposed legislation, we will work to ensure that the bill does not inadvertently require states to outlaw the use of truck cab fleet management systems that provide limited but necessary cargo-related information to professional drivers,” the association said in a release.
Texting while driving is already illegal in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah and DC.
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