The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has news on two fronts. And I'm excited about both.
First, you may recall that in January we announced we were banning commercial truck and bus drivers from texting behind the wheel. We did that based on an interpretation of existing rules. Today, we're beginning to make that interim ban permanent through a proposed rule that will make this prohibition stronger and more durable.
As FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro noted:
"We are committed to using every resource available to eliminate the dangers of distracted driving. And this rulemaking to prohibit texting by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers reinforces that commitment."
And that brings me to the second front of today's news. Proposing a new rule opens a 30-day period when we want to hear input from the public. Typically, people submit their comments to the DOT docket at the website regulations.gov.
But we have begun a groundbreaking partnership with Cornell University to make commenting on this proposed rule easier and more transparent with a new website, Regulation Room. This new Cornell e-rulemaking initiative (CeRI) provides an online public participation environment where people can learn about and discuss proposed federal regulations and provide effective feedback to DOT.
With it's interactivity, the Regulation Room is even more accessible and dynamic than regulations.gov. President Obama promised to open our government to more effective transparency, participation, and engagement.
This partnership is another important step toward keeping that promise. And I'm very proud that FMCSA is leading the way for DOT. So please join this unique rulemaking process and find out more about the Cornell initiative at regulationroom.org.
About the proposed rule itself, I want to point out that we know what a difficult job trucking is. We get that.
But those who text while driving are more than 20 times likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers. FMCSA's research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, that 4.6 seconds is enough time to travel the length of an entire football field plus both end zones.
Now, imagine a truck or bus hurtling that distance at that speed with a driver whose attention is not on the road ahead. I think you can see that there would be consequences. Maybe not every time, but it only takes one time to do the kind of horrific damage I've been writing about on this blog and we've been talking about on distraction.gov.
We're not trying to do anything here but save lives.