US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a federal rule that proposes to specifically prohibit texting by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers. The proposed rule would make permanent an interim ban announced in January 2010 that applied existing safety rules to the specific issue of texting.
The Department of Transportation also announced an unprecedented partnership with Cornell University to increase public involvement and collaboration in the rulemaking process. The Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI) partnership will make the federal regulatory process more accessible to the public through Regulation Room, an online public participation environment where people can learn about and discuss proposed federal regulations and provide effective feedback to the DOT.
“This is good news on two fronts,” said LaHood. “This rulemaking keeps our commitment to making our roads safer by reducing the threat of distracted driving. And our partnership with Cornell on the e-Rulemaking Initiative is an important step toward keeping President Obama’s promise of opening government to more effective citizen participation.”
The proposed rule to ban texting by drivers of commercial vehicles and bus drivers is the first effort in this partnership. Citizens can find more information on the Cornell online effort and provide comments on the proposed rule at www.regulationroom.org over the next 30 days. DOT encourages participation in this rulemaking through Regulation Room, but the public may also submit comments to the DOT docket at www.regulations.gov.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field—including the end zones—without looking at the road.
Drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers. Because of the safety risks associated with the use of electronic devices while driving, FMCSA is also working on other regulatory measures to be announced in the coming months.
The public can follow DOT progress in working to combat distracted driving at www.distraction.gov.