Trucker Texting Terrors: How a Five-Second Response Could Affect Your Entire Future
Every year, about 5,000 people die and another 100,000 are injured in truck accidents across the country. In 2003, Joan Claybrook, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), made a addressed these dangers in congressional testimony. In this statement, she noted that many truck accidents are caused by distracted driving and cell phone use.
After thirteen years, her statement not only still rings true; the situation has gotten worse.
Texas Texting Regulations
By now, anyone with a cell phone—nine out of ten drivers—should understand how easily mobile devices distract. Someone could be talking right at you, and you would be oblivious because your focus is on the text you’re sending. If you can’t notice someone two feet from you, how can you expect to be able to focus on a dozen cars weaving in and out of traffic? The answer is: you can’t. The issue is no longer debatable; texting while driving is dangerous, period!
Texting while in control of a 20-foot long, 30-ton trailer…that goes beyond dangerous, and yet state laws choose to ignore it.
Despite the fact that numerous studies have proven the dangers associated with texting and driving, Texas refuses to implement statewide laws banning cell phone use on the road. However, federal regulations introduced in 2010 have begun to influence state texting laws.
Federal Regulation Changes
Distraction factors and truck collision regularity prompted President Barack Obama to institute a national ban on texting for truckers and commercial bus drivers while operating their vehicles. To make sure the regulation is perfectly clear, it defines “texting” as a broad action of cell phone use that causes distractions and includes the following actions:
- Short message service.
- Instant messaging.
- Accessing a web page.
- Pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication.
- Using a mobile phone.
- Engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry.
Each offense can put a driver’s commercial license at risk and may even subject him to criminal and civil fines up to $2,750 per infraction.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood addressed truck drivers directly, stating that the government no longer merely expects them to share the road responsibly, but requires them to do so. This ban on cell phone texting will hopefully reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by truck crashes. If more truckers can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, it is pretty reasonable to assume that the number of collisions should go down.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has spent the last five years trying to incorporate the ban into state laws in order to enforce the national regulations. In addition, approximately 60 counties have developed local bans and limitations on truck cell phone use in the hope that Texas roadways will be safer and that the trucker driving next to you will have his eyes on the road, not on his phone.
Is It Enough?
Considering the terrifying consequences that can result from a trucker losing focus and control while driving, do you think this national ban is strong enough to prevent truckers from sending dangerous texts? Are the penalties for violations song enough? Is it time that Texas got on board with the rest of the country and seriously began to address the problems associated with texting and driving?
In the comment section provided on this page, let us know your thoughts on the subject. We’re eager to hear what Texans have to say about traffic safety. To discuss the consequences further, join the discussion on our Facebook page, or contact us directly to schedule a FREE consultation.