The United States Department of Transportation announced on January 26, 2010 that it is prohibiting truck and bus drivers from sending text messages on hand-held devices while operating commercial vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. This federal ban on texting for commercial truck drivers while driving is effective immediately and is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Department to combat distracted driving since the September 2009 Distracted Driving Summit.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) research shows that drivers who send and receive test 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, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road. Drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers. A report released on January 12, 2010, from the National Safety Council reported that 28 percent of traffic accidents are caused by people talking on cell phones or sending text messages.
Distracted driving is a serious, life-treatening practice and interstate truck and bus drivers who text while driving may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750. For further information, please visit http://www.dot.gov/.
New York Law
Effective November 1, 2009, New York became the 18th state to initiate the law against texting while driving. Previously, New York only banned talking on cell phones while driving. This new law forbids the use of mobile devices for reading, typing and sending text messages while driving and imposes a fine of up to $150. However, ther ban on portable electronics is considered a secondary offense, which means that it can only be levied if a driver is pulled over for another violation.