As many of you already know I very much dislike this “No Texting” ban set upon truck drivers.
It’s not so much the rule, but it is how they came about the conclusion that it is a “problem” in the trucking industry – and also the fine and punishment the DOT and FMCSA set forth on professional drivers.
I know it is a dangerous practice – I have seen the results as has others – of what can happen when texting and driving are mixed together. What bothers me so much about this whole thing is the fact that the DOT made this decree of ‘No Texting’ without any real proof.
Again as I have said many times before the FMCSA and DOT have admitted to using general public opinion polls and a preposterous report that examined only 203 professional drivers in only 55 different trucks at seven different companies out of the 4 million CMV drivers on the road. Out of a total of 4,452 crashes, near misses, crash relevant conflict, and unintentional lane deviations – 46% “near misses” I might add – they were able to determine that professional truck drivers were 23 times more likely to have an accident while driving and texting. Near misses of course are not crashes – so how are they contributing to crash reports – and almost half of the total in the report.
I also find the fine and punishment – set forth by DOT and FMCSA – astounding to say the least for a professional driver “caught” texting and driving a commercial vehicle. The punishment for drivers convicted of texting while driving a commercial vehicle would fall under the regulation 383.51 which includes violating a state or local law arising in connection with a fatal accident; driving a CMV without a proper CDL; speeding in excess of 15 mph above posted speeds; changing lanes erratically; and driving recklessly. And a fine of up to $2750.00 as well. States already have laws for distracted driving (including texting and driving) and the fines and or punishments are nowhere near this. So it seems to me this new decree is all about revenue – not about safety.
Now we find out that Rose McMurray, chief safety officer for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said they will be developing a second rule examining the full range of other in-vehicle distractions.
“Once we issue a final rule on texting, we will be developing a second rule examining the full range of other in-vehicle distractions like dispatch systems, using CB radios, etc. And hopefully develop a competent and coherent proposal that reduces risk, but doesn’t unnecessarily affect the legitimate needs for communication with and by, the driver,” said McMurray.
What else bothers me is that we have not heard any inkling as to how the police will enforce these laws – until now. I saw an article today out of Lincoln, Nebraska where by the way they will start enforcing “No Texting” laws – July 15th – explaining as to how the Nebraska State Patrol will be enforcing the laws.
Since it’s a secondary offense, Tuma says you will be pulled over for the bad driving that results from texting behind the wheel, like swerving over the center line or failure to signal. Then, you will be cited for both the moving violation and the texting.
So here is my problem with this law. What would happen if a driver in a 4 wheeler is texting and driving and crosses the center line and hits a tractor trailer – it’s clearly the 4 wheeler drivers fault – but the investigating officer while getting the phone records for the 4 wheeler driver just happens to check the phone records of the truck driver and finds he or she was also texting at the time of the accident?
But it was clearly the fault of the 4 wheeler driver – but now the truck driver also gets cited for texting and driving. Now my point of this scenario is the fines and punishments are as different as day and night between what states have set forth and what the DOT and FMCSA have set up. Will the truck driver be forced to pay both citations – from the state or county and DOT and FMCSA?
Here are the fines and punishments from Nebraska – Sgt. Novacek says the first time you’re caught texting the fine is $200, a second offense is $300, and a third offense is $500 plus three points on your license.
And if you think law enforcement can’t prove you were texting, Col. Tuma says State Patrol can contact your phone company to check and see if there was any phone activity at the time you were pulled over – or involved in a crash.
© 2010, Truck Drivers News Blog. All rights reserved.