Texting while driving is currently restricted in only 19 states. (Georgia is not one of them.) In an effort to reduce the number of bus wrecks and truck wrecks, a new federal law has banned texting by U.S. commercial truck drivers and bus drivers.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the new law on Tuesday and said that it takes effect immediately. This follows the December 2009 ban on texting for all federal employees driving on the job.
“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said LaHood. “This is an important safety step, and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”
The new ban on texting carries fines up to $2,750.
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 200,000 U.S. wrecks are caused each year by drivers who are texting.
Recent research on distracted driving has shown that drivers who take their eyes off the road to send and receive text messages are much more likely to crash.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that drivers have their eyes of the road for about 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds. Research suggests that texting drivers are about 20 times more likely to be involved in an auto accident.
Legislation has been introduced that would ban texting for all drivers. States that fail to enact texting bans within two years would lose a percentage of their federal highway funding.
The current ban on texting for truckers and bus drivers is certainly welcomed, but in some respects, it’s too little, too late. Texting while driving is a common phenomenon that is putting us all at danger.
A ban on texting for all drivers might also reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. Back in December, the Seattle Times reported that drivers are using text messages, twitter, facebook, and other electronic messaging systems to warn each other about DUI checkpoints and road blocks. In fact, there’s an iPhone application that’s specifically designed to identify checkpoints! (I have a bad feeling that I may soon see someone using an iPad while driving around Atlanta.)
Unfortunately, distracted driving will likely be a major problem and continue to cause auto accidents, injuries, and fatalities for years to come.
You can reduce your chances of being in a wreck by turning off your cell phone when your driving. Remember the good old days before cell phones when drivers kept their eyes on the road (most of the time)? In my mind, keeping your eyes on the road is the most important safety precaution for driving. if you need to use your cell phone, pull over, take a break, and take care of your business.
Have you been injured by a distracted driver? If so, contact an experienced Atlanta, Georgia auto accident lawyer immediately. You may be entitled to compensation. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.