We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe.
So today I’m announcing the latest in a series of actions DOT is taking to curb distracted driving and help make our roads much safer for everyone.
Our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, led by Administrator Anne Ferro, will prohibit commercial truck and bus drivers from texting with any handheld cellphone or other device that takes a driver’s attention off the road:
This policy has serious implications for inter-state drivers who carry cargo or passengers for a living, but we're not trying to deny anyone the opportunity to earn a living at the wheel of a truck or bus.
We’re simply sending a message: when we advise drivers to share the road responsibly, we mean it.
Look, we know that a commercial truck or bus driven by someone texting is a lethal weapon.
Now, in a perfect world, that knowledge would be the end of the story. Sadly, we know it's not. Many of us know the tragic consequences of this behavior firsthand. The rest of us have heard the stories.
When we sponsored the nation’s first summit on distracted driving last fall, we promised to send a clear message that texting and talking while driving are dangerous activities that must stop. And I've been working hard to send that message ever since.This latest step applies to inter-state truck drivers and commercial bus or van drivers who carry more than eight passengers.
Do you want to put this dangerous behavior in perspective? Researchers at Virginia Tech found that truck drivers who send text messages on a cell phone are about 23 times more likely to get into some type of crash or near-miss than drivers who keep their eyes on the road.
By adding interstate bus operators to the mix, we’re taking an important new step to protect ordinary citizens who rely on their drivers to deliver them safely to their destinations.
So the next time your church group or theater group hops on a bus, you can rest easier knowing their drivers are legally forbidden to take their eyes off the road to send or retrieve a text message.
While we know that all distracted driving laws must depend in part on drivers using their own good judgment and common sense, we also know that penalties act as a deterrent.
So for those who persist in putting their passengers and other travelers at risk, there will be consequences.Any truck or bus driver who violates the Federal regulations mentioned in this guidance is subject to a penalty up to $2,750.
I’m proud of this ground-breaking effort to help make America’s roadways safer from coast to coast, but we're not done.
In the months ahead, we’ll propose additional legal remedies and develop new tools that will help us work alongside the law enforcement community, safety advocates, researchers, and others, to find new ways to raise awareness and bring an end to the terrible dangers posed by distracted driving.
Drivers texting take their eyes of the road nearly five seconds per message. Close your eyes and count slowly to five. Imagine a truck or bus traveling the length of a football field plus its end zones--unattended. Imagine what can happen with a large truck or a busload of passengers in that time.
And then thank Anne Ferro and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for trying to prevent it.