According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), “One in five crashes involves driver distraction. Drivers who use cell phones in their vehicles have a higher risk of collision than drivers who don’t, whether holding the phone or using a hands-free device.
“In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a statewide ban on using a wireless communications device for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Texting, as well as reading or writing email, is prohibited while driving in Texas.” That’s the law in Texas for drivers of motor vehicles, but what about truck drivers?
No Texting for Truckers in All States
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry in the United States. The FMCSA commissioned research on commercial vehicle drivers and this is what the agency concluded:
“Research commissioned by FMCSA shows the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who text while driving than for those who do not.
“Texting drivers took their eyes off the forward roadway for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this equates to a driver traveling 371 feet, or the approximate length of a football field (including the end zones)—without looking at the roadway!”
What do the above findings mean to truck drivers nationwide? It means fines and penalties. It means that if a trucker is caught texting while driving, they can be disqualified. Drivers can face up to $2,750 in penalties and employers who allow their drivers to text can be fined up to $11,000.
What are the risks of truckers who text while driving? The FMCSA says texting is risky because it causes the trucker to take their eyes off the road. While truckers can use dispatching devices that are a part of a fleet management system, they cannot text on a cellphone or on a dispatching device; such behaviors are strictly prohibited by federal law.