Text messaging ban for commercial drivers reduces risk of Illinois trucking accidents, bus accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a final rule instituting a nationwide ban on text messaging by truck drivers, school bus drivers and the operators of other commercial vehicles.

Our Chicago accident attorneys reported earlier this fall when the new regulations were announced at the second annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. The final rule went into effect at the end of October. Not only can drives face fines and other penalties for texting while driving, a violation can also prohibit a driver from renewing or obtaining a commercial driver’s license.Nationwide, 1 in 9 traffic fatalities involves a large commercial truck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008, a total of 4,229 motorists were killed and more than 90,000 were injured in accidents involving large commercial trucks. Illinois trucking accidents resulted in 136 traffic fatalities.

Federal statistics show the truckers who text message are more than 23 more times likely to be involved in an accident, near accident or other dangerous driving behavior, such as drifting across lanes.

Drivers may be fined $2,750 and employers face fines of up to $11,000.

The government continues to focus on the dangers of text messaging because of its exploding popularity and because it involves all three forms of driver distraction: cognitive, visual and manual. The wireless industry reports the number of text messages has increased from 32.6 billion in the first six months of 2005 to 740 billion in the first six months of 2009.

A CBS News/New York Times poll found that 90 percent of those surveyed think that all drivers should be prohibited from text messaging. So far, 30 states, including Illinois, have passed such laws.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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