|Texting Ban-While-Driving effective immediately|
WASHINGTON — The Department of Transportation said Tuesday it was banning texting-while-driving by commercial truck and bus drivers.
“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.“This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving,” he said in a statement.
The step to curb distracted driving is an interpretation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s standing regulations, DOT said. Drivers cited for texting will be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.
“Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “We want to make it crystal clear to operators and their employers that texting while driving is the type of unsafe activity that these regulations are intended to prohibit.”
DOT did not specify whether only texting on handheld phones and other devices would be subject to the penalties.
LaHood said Tuesday that DOT would be putting out a proposed rule on other electronic devices but did not comment on whether the department would ban their use.
The regulatory guidance will be printed in the Federal Register on Wednesday.
Who does this apply to?
CMVs are defined in 49 CFR 390.5 as “any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle —
Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.”
Section 390.17 is therefore applicable to drivers of CMVs, as defined by §390.5, when the CMV is being used by a motor carrier operation subject to the FMCSRs. The general applicability of Parts 390 through 399 [49 CFR Parts 390 through 399] of the FMCSRs is prescribed by § 390.3.
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