The US Department of Transportation recently presented a proposal to forbid text messaging at the wheel by interstate truck and bus drivers. This regulatory action follows up on Department of Transportation call to mitigate distractions that lead to crashes.
The plan would replace the temporary ban announced at the beginning of the calendar year by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The proposed ban applies to drivers of passenger buses and commercial trucks operating vehicles with a gross vehicle weight over five tons. As an indication of the scope of the issue, violators could be facing civil penalities and/or even criminal penalties.
The US Transportation Department reported that 5,870 people were killed and about 515,000 were injured in 2008 in accidents involving distracted drivers. The department didn’t speculate how many of those deaths and injuries were linked to cell phone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reflects the Transportation Department estimates with projection that around eighty percent of crashes are caused by driver distraction. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is funding research to find out the extent of the distraction issue. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that driver inattention is a determining factor in many crashes, and cell phone calls and sending text messages are leading causes of driver distractions.
State legislators aren’t waiting for research reports and are passing new regulations dealing with cell phone calls and texting . The GHSA reports that twenty states plus Washington DC prohibit drivers of all types of vehicles from texting while driving. An additional nine states restricting texting by novice drivers. Most states are expected to implement the ban before too long. However it is also believed that the laws are not enough to stop the problem and technology is neede. The GHSA purports to say it supports texting bans for all drivers, but does have concerns about enforcement.
A leading company with a monitoring solution is Phone Beagle. Their software installs on Android and BlackBerry smartphones and monitors GPS location, and text messages along with other phone log activity.
The trucking and passenger bus trade associations support the texting ban, and many corporations have strict policies against texting when behind the wheel. The government, industry and safety organizations have found common ground that distracted drivers caused bysending text messages is a menace to society, and deserves action. Advocates for dealing with the problem also include media powerhouse Oprah.
The issue is a relatively new phenomenon. As navigation systems, cell phones and other mobile electronics have become common in cars and trucks, safety advocates and the government have pushed for restrictions.
As regulations and technology work to to solve the issues a software package from Phone Beagle is available to help deal with monitoring phone use. Their software installs on Android and BlackBerry smartphones and monitors GPS location, and text messages along with other phone log events.