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Trucking Industry Looking for Exception from Texting Bans

Across the country, there has been a movement at the state and federal levels to ban drivers from sending, receiving and reading text messages while driving. The focus on text messages began in earnest over the summer when the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released a study that found that drivers who text while driving have a 23 times greater risk of being involved in an accident than drivers who do not — a risk that is far greater than even drinking and driving. October 31, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ — Trucking Industry Looking for Exception from Texting Bans

Article provided by Pierce, Herns, Sloan & McLeod, LLC
Visit us at http://www.phsm.net

National Push for Texting Ban

Across the country, there has been a movement at the state and federal levels to ban drivers from sending, receiving and reading text messages while driving. The focus on text messages began in earnest over the summer when the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released a study that found that drivers who text while driving have a 23 times greater risk of being involved in an accident than drivers who do not — a risk that is far greater than even drinking and driving.

Even the Governors Highway Safety Association now is on board with encouraging states to prohibit drivers from texting while driving. Previously, the Association was against these bans, but changed its official policy after announcing that "texting while driving is indisputably a distraction and a serious highway safety problem."

Currently, only about half of the states have passed laws that prevent drivers from texting while driving. South Carolina is not one of them. The state, however, may be forced to adopt a texting ban if proposed federal legislation is passed.

The federal government wants to see a national texting ban. A bill has been introduced into Congress that would cut federal highway dollars by 25 percent to any state that did not adopt a texting ban. President Obama signed an executive order that bans all federal workers from texting while driving when they are on government business, driving government vehicles or using other government equipment.

Texting Ban Includes On-Board Computer Systems

There also has been a push at the federal level to pass a ban that would prevent interstate bus drivers and truckers from sending text messages while driving. This ban also would include the on-board computer systems used by the majority of truck drivers — a move which the American Trucking Association has referred to as "over-kill."

Many trucking companies install on-board computer systems into their semi-trucks in order to communicate with their drivers while they are on the road. The computer systems can be used to send out important messages, new order requests and directions. Truck drivers use these systems to report their hours and status to the trucking company. The computers, however, also can be used for non-work purposes, like checking email and surfing the Internet.

While some trucking companies have policies in place that require drivers to pull over before using the computer systems, in reality this rarely happens. Whenever a truck is sitting on the side of the road, the trucking company is losing money by the minute. Given the enormous pressure on truck drivers to keep their delivery schedules, for many it is not practical to pull over every time they have to read or send a message on the computer. Instead, the drivers may keep a keyboard in their laps or nearby and use it as needed while they are driving.

There is a terrifying prospect for other drivers on the road with these trucks. It is estimated that, on average, it takes roughly four seconds for truck drivers to read one of the messages on their computers — and it can take even less time than that for an accident to happen.

The trucking industry, however, says that the on-board computer systems are safe and do not pose a risk to other drivers. They argue that these devices require less concentration than using a cell phone or sending a text message.

While the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute did find that truck drivers using on-board computer systems have a lower risk of accidents than drivers who text, truck drivers using the devices still have a 10 times greater risk of being involved in an accident. Moreover, the on-board computer systems still take truck driver attention off of the road much in the same way that texting does, by requiring them to read and/or type out a message.

Trucking Industry Concerned About Profits, Not Safety

The trucking industry does not want to be included in the texting ban because it is going to cost them money. It will take their drivers an estimated 15 minutes every time they have to pull over to read or send a message on the on-board computer system. If they have to stop several times a day, this amount of lost time is going to result in a considerable loss of profits industry-wide.

Some trucking companies already have company policies in place that prevent some or all of their drivers from texting and/or using hand-held cell phones while driving. Additionally, there are on-board computer systems available that cannot be used while the truck is in motion or only have limited uses during this time. For example, some of the systems are equipped to have the messages read aloud to the truckers so they do not have to read them off of the screen. Safety features like these could help decrease the amount of truck driver distraction if required by all trucking companies.

The problem is that trucking companies do not have uniform policies in place when it comes to regulating truck driver distraction. And distracted truck drivers quite possibly pose the greatest risk on the roadways, given the size of these vehicles and the amount of damage than can do to a regular-sized passenger vehicle.

Conclusion

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today.

Article provided by Pierce, Herns, Sloan & McLeod, LLC
Visit us at http://www.phsm.net


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