American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves joined Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as LaHood announced a ban on text messaging by drivers of commercial vehicles.
‘Highway safety is critically important to the trucking industry, commercial vehicles, passenger buses and the motoring public,’ Graves said.’‘Our nation’s highways are the trucking industry’s workplace, and we must continue to make them safer for everyone’s benefit.’
‘Texting on a handheld phone while driving substantially elevates the risk of being involved in a crash,’ said Graves. ‘To promote highway safety, and further improve the trucking industry’s continually improving safety record and that of all commercial vehicles, ATA supports DOT’s action to ban the use of handheld wireless devices by commercial drivers to send or receive text messages while driving.’
Graves also said ATA supports states’ efforts to ban texting by automobile drivers as well. He said ATA will continue to work with affiliated state trucking associations and diverse stakeholder groups to make that happen. As proof of the trucking industry’s highway safety progress, over the last 5 years the truck-involved fatality rate has declined 22 percent, the truck-involved injury rate has declined 25 percent, and both are at record lows.
In October 2008, ATA adopted a policy limiting the use of electronic devices that may distract drivers. ATA policy supports the safe use of technologies and encourages drivers and/or motor carriers to consider a range of policies and safeguards intended to reduce, minimize and/or eliminate driver distractions that may be caused by the increased use of electronic technologies ’ like global positioning systems, cellular phones, etc. ’ during the operation of all types of motor vehicles. ATA’s policy further recommends that manufacturers and others adopt awareness, training, and safety policies on the use of such technologies’unless required by current laws or regulations’during the operation of a motor vehicle.
ATA’s 42-member Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly last October to support the Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act, which would require states to ban texting while driving. The bill defines a hand-held mobile telephone as mobile telephone or other portable electronic communication device with which a user engages in a call or writes, sends or reads a text message using at least one hand. It does not include a vehicle-integrated, voice-activated device.