The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would permanently ban text messaging by commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers while operating in interstate commerce and to impose sanctions, including civil penalties and disqualification from operating CMVs in interstate commerce, for drivers who fail to comply with this rule. Additionally, motor carriers would be prohibited from requiring or allowing their drivers to engage in texting while driving.
The term "texting" is broadly defined to mean "manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device." Texting would include, but not be limited to, short message service, emailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry, for present or future communication.
The definition of texting would not include: (i) Reading, selecting, or entering a telephone number, an extension number, or voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device for the purpose of initiating or receiving a phone call or using voice commands to initiate or receive a telephone call; (ii) Using an in-cab fleet management system or citizens band radio; (iii) Inputting or selecting information on a global positioning system or navigation system; or (iv) Using a device capable of performing multiple functions for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited in this rule. For purposes of the rule, the term "electronic device" includes, but is not limited to, a cellular telephone; personal digital assistant; pager; computer; or other device used to input, write, send, receive, or read text.
Finally, the proposed rule defines driving to include operating a commercial motor vehicle, with the motor running, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle with or without the motor running when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.
Comments (identified by docket number FMCSA–2009–0370) may be submitted on or before May 3, 2010, by any one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal:
Docket Management Facility (M-30)
U.S. Department of Transportation
West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202–366–9329.
A list of the states (19 to date) that currently prohibit texting while driving can be found at the following USDOT Web site: http://www.distraction.gov/state-laws.