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Drivers of large vehicles are the latest to feel the wrath of the anti-texting movement

Driving is a privilege that most Americans take for granted. We drive to work, we drive to see family, and we run errands on the weekend to Home Depot or fend off soccer moms in their minivans at Target. However, technology continues to invade not only our lives, but also our vehicles, which is making the normally mundane act of driving more challenging.

From GPS units to cell phones to SYNC in-car infotainment systems, U.S. drivers have found new ways to distract themselves while driving thanks to technology (not to mention other favorites such as applying makeup, eating, reading the newspaper, etc.). Texting while driving is the latest craze to infect drivers and states around the country are swiftly implementing laws to make such activities illegal. Texting is already banned in 19 states, and 23 states are currently prepping their own laws to tackle the problem.

"Legislators are looking to see if it (texting) is enough of a safety issue that they need to intervene," said Anne Teigen told the USA Today. Teigen is a transportation specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They often get involved because there's a high-profile accident that had to do with texting. Also, because everybody has a cellphone now."

While states are currently going it alone in drafting "no texting while driving" laws, there are a few nationwide texting bans that drivers should heed. President Obama issued an executive order at the close of 2009 banning all federal workers -- rather, those on the job -- from texting while driving. The ban affects roughly four million federal workers.

Now a new, federal ban is coming down from the U.S. government. The latest nationwide texting ban applies to drivers of big rigs and buses. "We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."

Drivers that choose not to abide by the new law face a fine of $2,750.

The bans from both the states and the U.S. government come on the heels of numerous studies which point out the dangerous consequences of texting and driving. A study by the University of Utah showed that drivers that text behind the wheels are six times more likely to be involved in a collision. The National Security Council notes that roughly 200,000 accidents are caused each drivers who text behind the wheel.

However, it's wishful thinking to believe that nationwide texting bans are going to stop people from partaking in America's favorite electronic pastime. Reuters has previously reported that teens aren't persuaded to stop their texting addictions just because there are laws on the books to prohibit the act.

"What I would say is that texting and cell phone devices have become such a component of life for teens and for young people that it's hard for them to differentiate between doing something normal and doing something wrong," remarked Steven Bloch, a senior research associate for the Automobile Club.

Considering that texting while driving isn't a habit that only affect teenagers, it's more than likely that drivers in a more "advanced state of age" are reluctant to stop the practice as well.

While the current nationwide texting bans affect a relatively small portion of the entire U.S. driver pool, Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat, NY) is looking to change that. Senator Schumer has introduced legislation that would call for a federal ban on texting while driving. States that don't comply with the legislation would be see a 25 percent cut in the federal highway funds they receive.

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RE: It's a good start
By Sazabi19 on 1/26/2010 3:25:18 PM , Rating: 0
OK you crazy anarchist left-wing piece of crap, stfu and gtfo. If it were up to people like you there would be more deaths today than ever. Sure why not have a few bruskies with the bros and go drive down to your favorite place after that, dont mind the pedestrian speed bumps. Marijuana is fine too go ahead and toke it up! Dont worry about laws they just hold us back, go and have fun! Idiot...

RE: It's a good start
By porkpie on 1/26/2010 3:42:29 PM , Rating: 3
Um, the guy actually has a valid point. While I don't agree with the idea that we can't have DUI laws at all, the fact that people are getting charged with DUI while asleep in a car that doesn't even run, or in the back of a car being TOWED for Christ's sake, is about as silly as it gets.

What kind of judge makes an idiot ruling like that?

RE: It's a good start
By TheEinstein on 1/27/2010 8:16:08 AM , Rating: 2
I drive a semi-truck, specifically a Volvo 780.

In my truck I have a tom-tom, a Qualcomm (Message system via satelite for next load info, fuel stops, routing, etc), cell phone, my laptop, and Sirius Radio.

In a cop car they have stereo, radio, cell phone, computer, and in some a gps system. Cops drive less distance, and less hours than I do, BY FAR. Yet they are expected to do all instruments and a highspeed chase at the same time.

Do not give me some drivel about them being 'more trained' either, they are simply not trained half as much in driving as a semi-truck driver is.

Texting on a phone is idiocy, I admit. But existing laws will cover 100% of what a driver can do. If you wont throw the book at 100% of criminals (yes criminal if you have an accident cause you were distracted, it's called wreckless driving) and if you wont prosecute under certain laws because the standards are hard to meet, then it's your fault prosecutors.

New and endless laws are STUPID. In theory now I cannot read my Qualcomm due to this law, or even hit the next button to shut the thing up when it gets a message. The endless beeping is more a hazard than my hitting the next.

Keep your laws to yourself. I drive safe. In fact I have yet to have ANY accidents while driving (yard accidents only, different story there) even with website reading, typing (slowly) in text boxes, and talking on a phone.

Most drivers you meet wont have accidents due to phone usage.

We are called PROFESSIONAL DRIVERS for a reason.

Do not mistake, bus drivers never should use it anyways, but their standards are half my standards.

RE: It's a good start
By Fracture on 1/27/2010 9:26:45 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is sometimes just that: its their profession. A cop does not have to drive to make a living (necessarily.. or can spend a lot of time parked in one spot).

A small percentage of professional drivers make the choice to sacrifice rest for more miles/hauls, often with disasterous consequences. While your average recreational driver can drink, drive, and cause some pretty serious damage, a sleepy semi driver will turn anything it hits into a crushed soda can.

My point is, its not always the external distractions that cause crashes, but that doesn't really relate to this article. Internal factors such as fatigue will however multiply their consequences, and it is much more an issue with vehicles weighing many times your average SUV.

You are right about experience leading to less accidents under normal circumstances though.

RE: It's a good start
By TheEinstein on 1/27/2010 7:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
Where did I mention fatigue and rest issues?

You reacted like a talking point.

I spoke of instruments and devices, not of fatigue.

Now as I said before, we have a lot of instruments, but we do need certain amounts.

Texting while driving is a skill set for professional drivers. Our next load, directions, fuel routing, HR issues, etc, all via a text device (in my case a Qualcomm)

I cannot wait for the government to regulate sex and porn on the scale they are regulating other freedoms. I can see the laws now "no sex on tuesdays, unless in full body latex" and "premature ejaculation is punishable by a $5000 fine" and "at any time a government regulator may study your sexual habits to determine if they are safe"

RE: It's a good start
By ClownPuncher on 1/26/2010 4:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
You're advocating redundant and specialized laws for things we already have laws for. I suggest you read his post again, because I find it to be very much correct.

Seriously read that DUI for Inoperable vehicles link and tell me it makes sense.

Our legal system needs to get LESS convoluted with arbitrary laws and we should focus on the ones that actually make sense.

RE: It's a good start
By ZHENZHEN on 1/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: It's a good start
By mindless1 on 1/28/2010 12:30:36 AM , Rating: 2
Perversion of existing laws is not a reason to do without law nor do without creating new laws that cover the technological advances made.

If the existing laws really cover the topic then what would be the problem with a specialized law for it? No, I think your argument is nonsense and you just want to text while driving.

I do not support excessively broad application, for example I find the DUI for Inoperable Vehicles conviction ludicrous, but we will not have a solution to excessive interpretation of existing laws until we have laws more fine tuned to specific circumstances.

For example, if they wanted it to be illegal to sleep drunk in an inoperable car, "IF" the people felt it should be illegal, they should have made such a law distinct and separate from DUI. Doing this takes away the reasonable latitude Judges have to pervert the law, by clearing defining what the punishment is for specific things.

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