In late December the United States Department of Transportation implemented a ban on truckers using texting while driving. While this regulation should not come as much of a surprise to the community at large, the financial consequences of this new proposed bill are staggering. Drivers stand to be fined $2,750 for the act and the cost to their employers if busted is a staggering $11,000. Now according to DoT figures 3,380 people were killed last year in trucking accidents. Add to that the rising popularity of texting bans already in place for drivers in 9 states and it is not surprise the DoT Secretary Ray LaHood acted to curb this behavior. In fact the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) roundly applauded the measure as one which will lead to increased safety on the road for citizens and truckers alike.
The bills also contained the beginnings of a proposal to remove all cell phones from the truck cab regardless of headset capability as well; in theory implementing fines similar to the ones mentioned above. Although the proposition merely called for an inquiry into the situation it too has garnered some media attention but not nearly to the degree, nor tone of the texting ban in the above paragraph. OOIDA had something to say about the issue and it makes a lot of sense. Texting takes a lot of the driver’s focus and attention away from the road to handle what is typically a minute detail. Some of the best points OOIDA make in regard to this stem from the current existence of many more complex and involved devices put in place in most modern trucks. Compared to the use of a CB radio, the cell phone with a head set or voice recognition capabilities is actually safer. Armed with this evidence, it appears that the DoT will likely not be pursuing as draconian of a policy in the near future.
The real takeaway here is that you and your drivers need to be aware of the occupational and financial risks taken on with the new texting bill, and its risks to the company. Not texting behind the wheel of anything should be common sense by now, and avoided simply because of the safety implications let alone what’ll happen to your wallet. Keep checking back here to see how the rest of the cell phone debate plays out at the DoT.