A ban on cell-phone text messaging by truck drivers imposed today should be extended to all motorists, said the president of the American Trucking Associations.
Such a prohibition would be appropriate for "all states," ATA President Bill Graves said at a press conference in Washington announcing the ban on texting by truckers.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia ban texting by drivers. Several other states are mulling similar bans, and Congress is considering federal legislation.
"We'd like to see all 50 states (adopt such a ban), and failing that we would support federal action that bans texting among all automobile drivers to make our roads safer," Graves said. "We'll work with our affiliated state associations to make that happen."
Graves spoke alongside Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. ATA supports the ban, which imposes fines of up to $2,750 on truck and bus drivers who send text messages while driving.
The ban was imposed by the Department of Transportation while FMCSA works on a proposed rule on what electronic devices truck drivers may use while driving.
"The ability to ban texting on handheld devices is available and we applaud doing that," said Graves, noting that "we have some tougher tests before us" when it comes to determining whether restrictions should be placed on other in-cab devices.
"Over the last five years we've seen some progress in safety on our nation's highways, from fatality accidents to the injury rate," Graves said. "But in order for those statistics to continue to improve, we need steps like the one the secretary is announcing today."
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