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U.S. bans texting while driving trucks and buses

Edict issued this morning by the Department of transportation

By Paul McNamara on Tue, 01/26/10 - 9:07am.

What took so long? Honestly, what on earth took so long?

This morning the Department of Transportation announced -- finally -- that the operators of trucks and buses on U.S. roadways will no longer be able to text while they should be watching the road.

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is quoted in this Reuters story:

"We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," LaHood said. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."

Failure to obey will come with a hefty cost, too: as high as $2,750.

Those penalties -- and jail time if an accident occurs -- are more than justified by the danger these drivers are creating; danger to their passengers, other drivers, and themselves.

If you'd like to see a few example of the carnage being caused by inattentive bus and truck drivers, watch this MSNBC account of video footage captured on San Antonio buses.

It's not as though this is a new issue that just popped up; I've been writing about it myself since early 2007.

The data has been piling up for years, too, witness this study that says truck drivers who text from the road are 23 times more likely to have an accident.

The Department of Transportation even devotes an entire section of its Web site to distracted driving.

What took so long?

(Update: So right outside my fourth-floor office window I can see that a tractor-trailer truck has just torn up a big hunk of guard rail on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Do you think maybe driver was ...? Hey, it's a straight stretch of road.) 

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