Enforcing ‘No Texting’ Ban – How


As many of you already know I very much dislike this “No Texting” ban set upon truck drivers.

It’s not so much the rule, but it is how they came about the conclusion that it is a “problem” in the trucking industry – and also the fine and punishment the DOT and FMCSA set forth on professional drivers.

I know it is a dangerous practice – I have seen the results as has others – of what can happen when texting and driving are mixed together. What bothers me so much about this whole thing is the fact that the DOT made this decree of ‘No Texting’ without any real proof.

Again as I have said many times before the FMCSA and DOT have admitted to using general public opinion polls and a preposterous report that examined only 203 professional drivers in only 55 different trucks at seven different companies out of the 4 million CMV drivers on the road. Out of a total of 4,452 crashes, near misses, crash relevant conflict, and unintentional lane deviations – 46% “near misses” I might add – they were able to determine that professional truck drivers were 23 times more likely to have an accident while driving and texting. Near misses of course are not crashes – so how are they contributing to crash reports – and almost half of the total in the report.

I also find the fine and punishment – set forth by DOT and FMCSA – astounding to say the least for a professional driver “caught” texting and driving a commercial vehicle. The punishment for drivers convicted of texting while driving a commercial vehicle would fall under the regulation 383.51 which includes violating a state or local law arising in connection with a fatal accident; driving a CMV without a proper CDL; speeding in excess of 15 mph above posted speeds; changing lanes erratically; and driving recklessly. And a fine of up to $2750.00 as well. States already have laws for distracted driving (including texting and driving) and the fines and or punishments are nowhere near this. So it seems to me this new decree is all about revenue – not about safety.

Now we find out that Rose McMurray, chief safety officer for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said they will be developing a second rule examining the full range of other in-vehicle distractions.

“Once we issue a final rule on texting, we will be developing a second rule examining the full range of other in-vehicle distractions like dispatch systems, using CB radios, etc. And hopefully develop a competent and coherent proposal that reduces risk, but doesn’t unnecessarily affect the legitimate needs for communication with and by, the driver,” said McMurray.

What else bothers me is that we have not heard any inkling as to how the police will enforce these laws – until now. I saw an article today out of Lincoln, Nebraska where by the way they will start enforcing “No Texting” laws – July 15th – explaining as to how the Nebraska State Patrol will be enforcing the laws.

Since it’s a secondary offense, Tuma says you will be pulled over for the bad driving that results from texting behind the wheel, like swerving over the center line or failure to signal. Then, you will be cited for both the moving violation and the texting.

So here is my problem with this law. What would happen if a driver in a 4 wheeler is texting and driving and crosses the center line and hits a tractor trailer – it’s clearly the 4 wheeler drivers fault – but the investigating officer while getting the phone records for the 4 wheeler driver just happens to check the phone records of the truck driver and finds he or she was also texting at the time of the accident?

But it was clearly the fault of the 4 wheeler driver – but now the truck driver also gets cited for texting and driving. Now my point of this scenario is the fines and punishments are as different as day and night between what states have set forth and what the DOT and FMCSA have set up. Will the truck driver be forced to pay both citations – from the state or county and DOT and FMCSA?

Here are the fines and punishments from Nebraska – Sgt. Novacek says the first time you’re caught texting the fine is $200, a second offense is $300, and a third offense is $500 plus three points on your license.

And if you think law enforcement can’t prove you were texting, Col. Tuma says State Patrol can contact your phone company to check and see if there was any phone activity at the time you were pulled over – or involved in a crash.

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I'm just a EX-truck driver, trying to pass along a little information. I been in the Trucking Industry as a driver for over 15 years. I have driven both as an owner operator and as a company driver. I have also been a driver instructor for an accredited truck driving school in KY. I am no longer a truck driver, but I consider myself to be a watchdog for the trucking industry. In fact this site is the #1 site for getting the real news about trucking. We don't hold back here, you will hear the full story. Twitter | |Truck Drivers News Facebook
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6 Responses to Enforcing ‘No Texting’ Ban – How

  1. Asia Reeves says:

    Good points, Jason. This is feign policy at it’s best. It’s always about revenue and never about safety. A good example would be how they raised the speed limit on the Ohio toll road and lowered the tolls for trucks. Why? It was simply because trucks were taking the back roads and residents were complaining about the increased truck traffic. To calm the situation, they lured trucks back on the toll roads. If the 55 mph speed limit were about safety, they never would have raised it..NO MATTER WHAT.

    The same goes for texting. Texting is dangerous, no doubt, but why target only truckers and with outrageous fines at that? They could care less about our safety only how they can profit from the latest technological advances. If this madness against truckers persists, I’ll have no choice but to become a police officer. That way, I can text, talk, and type on my laptop as I travel down the highway.

    • Thanks Asia, you bring up another good point as well, that being Ohio. Yes, they raised the speed limit – but also gave their police the power to “guess” your speed and give you a ticket for that guess – with no proof needed.

  2. Big Dan says:

    You make some good points Jason. These laws ‘in the interest of public safety’ never cease to amaze me they’re more so in the interest of government revenue. Same difference with the lower and lower DWI limits (none of which have reduced alcohol related traffic fatalities) and seat belt laws. It’s all about generating revenue.

    As a non-truck driver I see the angle that penalties should be stiffer for truckers only because your driving much bigger vehicles that can be much more dangerous. On the other hand truck drivers are more likely to be experienced thus drive defensively over a car driver so it’s a catch 22 in my book.

    • Thanks Big D for your comment. I was hoping a non-truck driver would weigh in on this too. Yea, most of these laws are in fact just “feel good” laws but most don’t come with such a stiff punishment and fine as this one – and they’re already going to add to it.

      The problem with the rule is it should be straight across the board. As we all have to share the road, so what laws and punishments we encounter the general driving public should endure the same. Statistics show non-professional drivers cause 80% of the accidents between a tractor trailer and a 4 wheeler. So statistically fines and punishments should be worse for non-professional drivers.

      • Big Dan says:

        Agreed. Realistically no congressman is going to suggest that because there are so many 4wheel drivers that it would be political suicide. Ideally people would just have common sense and realize that whether your driving a 4 wheeler or 18 wheeler it needs your full attention. I’ve nearly gotten into an accident or two just from changing the radio station or trying to read a text — I learned thankfully before someone go hurt.

        I agree that these laws are simply feel good, same difference with DWI, lowering the limit is feel good and more revenue generation. Unfortunately they’re trying to legislate common sense — Ya just cannot fix stupid! :D

        Anywho I really the site! I’ve stopped by before but a tweet brought me here earlier, think it’s the first time I’ve commented.

        • “Ya just cannot fix stupid”

          Yea, I appreciate the kudos on the site, I have worked very hard trying to keep it updated and looking sort of professional. The site is not only for truck drivers as I have tried to broaden out a little more – so keep stopping by as you never know what will be posted in here.


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