Banning Texting in Truck Raises Other Questions
March 31, 2010, 1:57 pm
The Department of Transportation on Wednesday proposed to make permanent a rule that prohibits cross-country truckers from texting while driving. But safety advocates say they hope to see further rules that restrict the truckers from using in-vehicle dispatch terminals and other devices that could take hands from the wheel and eyes from the road.
Such technologies have been shown to increase crash risk and the DOT pledged last year to explore the dangers those technologies represent. Raymond H. LaHood, the secretary of transportation, also said the agency would be looking at the crash risks posed by truckers talking on cell phones while driving.
Judith Stone, president of Advocates for Highway Safety, a consumer and safety advocacy coalition that petitioned the transportation department to study the risks posed by muli-tasking truckers, said that she hopes further rules are forthcoming.
“We’re very supportive of the department,” she said of Wednesday’s announcement. But she added: ”We want the department to continue down this road of looking at the devices that are highly distracting and take action to curb those as well.”
In its announcement proposing to make permanent the texting ban, the department said it would work with Cornell University to take public comments on the proposed rule. It described the proposed rule as a “first effort” in its partnership with the trucking industry, suggesting more rules might be forthcoming.