Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he is initiating a new regulatory process to ban texting and limit use of mobile devices by commercial truck drivers while hauling hazardous materials.
LaHood told a DOT Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., that the new rulemaking proposes to "limit a commercial truck driver's use of all electronic devices while transporting hazardous materials."
At the same conference, UPS said it is preparing to follow its ban on driver texting with a broader policy on use of cell and smart phones while its employees are behind the wheel, in support of federal policies to combat distracted driving.
The proposed hazmat ban is on top of an earlier proposal to ban texting by interstate truckers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published that final rule Sept. 21, to take effect on Oct. 21.
However, the FMCSA does not have jurisdiction over hazmat drivers, which fall under the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, so the latest rulemaking would apply the texting ban to those drivers as well.
LaHood also said a rule the DOT announced last year has now become final for locomotive operations, restricting train operators from using cell phones and other electronic devices while in the driver's seat. It is scheduled to take effect this fall.
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