In another sign of the speed with which distracted driving has gone from a fringe issue to center stage, the US Department of Transportation moved Tuesday to ban bus drivers and drivers of large trucks from texting while operating their vehicles, according to media reports. The measure will exist above and beyond the Oregon distracted driving law that went into effect this month.
The New York Times reports that the ban is effective immediately and that violators will “face civil or criminal fines of up to $2,750.” Here in Oregon distracted driving, including texting and the use of hand-held cellphones behind the wheel, has been illegal since the first of the year. Similar bans exist in about a dozen other states as well as the District of Columbia. The federal government is able to go beyond these state laws because of the authority it possesses to regulate the trucking industry at the national level.
In addition to cellphones the new rules also cover the dashboard computers long-haul drivers use to communicate with their dispatchers. The move comes partly in response to an increasing body of statistical evidence of the dangers posed by distracted driving. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been an increasingly vocal opponent of distracted driving since taking office last year.
The new regulations should also benefit drivers who have been involved in a Portland traffic accident involving an Oregon distracted driver. As laws aimed at distracted driving tighten up throughout the nation, it may become increasingly difficult for reckless drivers to justify their conduct in court. Pedestrians, motorists and cyclists injured by an Portland distracted driver should promptly consult a Portland personal injury lawyer. Beyond the criminal sanctions an Oregon distracted driver may be subject to, victims in such accidents may also be entitled to compensation for their injuries, damage to vehicles, lost income and pain and suffering.
New York Times: Government bans texting by truck and bus drivers
Reuters in Insurance Journal: U.S. bans texting by drivers of large trucks, buses