The U. S. Department of Transportation received a petition last week from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety with the intent of decreasing the number of truck accidents on our highways. According to their website, the Advocates are pushing DOT officials to pass rules –
to prohibit or restrict the use of unsafe electronic devices, for talking, texting and other purposes, by operators of commercial motor vehicles, such as tractor trailers, motorcoach buses, and large vans.
The petition, which was submitted to the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), asks officials to immediately review the use all hand held electronic devises such as cell phones, blackberries, pda’s, and portable dvds by drivers of commercial vehicles and if they in fact pose a threat to safety on our highways. If it is determined that use of these devices while driving commercial vehicles (and I can’t see that they would not), then the Advocates want an infraction of any new rules would be an Out of Service violation.
Accoring to Jacquiline Gillan, vice president of Advocates,
“Driver distraction is a serious and growing safety problem. If safety is indeed our nation’s number one transportation priority, now is the time for FMCSA to act to stem the rising tide of distracted driving crashes, deaths and injuries.”
The petition cited the fact that while commercial trucks represent only a small percentage of the vehicles on the highway(3%), commercial truck accidents are the cause of 12% of all highway fatalities. It only makes sense that we don’t want to increase this percentage by allowing them to use electronic devises while driving a 80,000 pound (40 ton!) vehicle at 65 miles per hour.