Research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 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 also is working on additional regulatory measures that will be announced in the coming months.
“We are committed to using every resource available to eliminate the dangers of distracted driving,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “This rulemaking to prohibit texting by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers, along with the Cornell E-Rulemaking Initiative, reinforces our unwavering commitment and provides the public with a unique opportunity to share their ideas and comments on how together we can make our roads safer.”
The Transportation Department 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 department.
“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 will be on public display in the Federal Register atarting March 31 and will appear in print in the Federal Register on April 1.
During the September 2009 Distracted Driving Summit, LaHood announced the department’s plan to pursue this regulatory action, as well as rulemakings to reduce the other risks posed by distracted driving. President Obama also signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment. Federal employees were required to comply with the ban starting Dec. 30, 2009.
The public can follow the progress of the U.S. Department of Transportation in working to combat distracted driving at http://www.distraction.gov.