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Communications Transportation

The End of the Road For Texting Truckers 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the six-days-on-the-road-and-I'm-gonna-text-home-tonight dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "The US Transportation Department is calling for a permanent ban on texting while driving, for interstate truck and bus drivers. An interim ban has been in place since January. The government says it is doing everything it can to make roads safer by reducing the threat of distracted drivers. The Transportation Department says nearly 6,000 people were killed and half a million injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2008."
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The End of the Road For Texting Truckers

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @09:53PM (#31696736) Journal

    Reckless driving is already an offense in every state I know of. Why not just enforce that law?

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:08PM (#31696850)
    because someone texting may not be appear to be driving recklessly but still be dangerous as all hell. the same goes for smoking and eating while driving.
  • by Slow Smurf (839532) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:08PM (#31696852)

    Because that's a lot harder than it sounds. If a cop pulls you over for "reckless driving" you have a chance to say it wasn't reckless because you're a just that good at driving or a variety of other subjective excuses. This can eat up court time etc.

    If they pull you over for talking on a cell phone, all they have to do is testify you were talking on a cell phone. Case closed. Same reason they use radar guns.(Aren't those often required to give speeding tickets nowdays?)

    Not saying it's right, but that is certainly why they do it.(along with grandstanding of course)

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:10PM (#31696864)
    Most trucks drive on state and federal highways, so state and federal legislation makes sense.

    Of course, truckers can still look up contacts, dial their phones, look up addresses and map them, download apps, and play games on their smartphones while driving. They just can't text.
  • Why only truckers? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trip6 (1184883) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:17PM (#31696920)

    All the studies show it isn't safe - it has been banned in several states. Why not everybody?

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:31PM (#31697014)

    Can you elaborate on how you can text safely in a moving vehicle that you are driving?

    I agree with your argument about other types of distraction (such as talking on the phone) but it's not a matter of correlation vs. causation. Being distracted causes your risk of being in an accident to increase. That causal link has been shown by experiments, not correlation only studies. You're correct, there are situations, and drivers, in which you're at a low risk of collision anyway and your total risk including distractions remains acceptable. Poor judgement causes you to be distracted in a bad situation, which causes you to be in an accident. The direct cause is still the distraction.

    I agree, it would be best to attack the problem at the ultimate cause, not the proximate one, but unless you recall everyone's drivers license and make them take proper training and a real test, discouraging the worst forms of distraction are the only real workable solution.

  • by ThunderDan (788062) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:33PM (#31697042)
    Since the Transportation Department (who proposed the ban) has to rely on Congressional constitutional powers, the proposed ban will only be applicable to interstate drivers, pursuant to Congress' interstate commerce regulatory power. Although for as laxly as the Supreme Court is willing to interpret commerce to be, it's not an inconceivable stretch to include texting.
  • Re:CB Radio (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:33PM (#31697044)

    Surely you see the difference between texting and talking on a CB radio? If not, try it sometime. In a simulator.

  • by evil_aar0n (1001515) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:40PM (#31697076)

    I agree with the majority of your points, but if you want "safe driving," take humans out of the equation. Put "Hal" in charge of transportation and let the "system" get you there. A side benefit is that it might actually speed things up.

  • by Cryacin (657549) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:40PM (#31697082)
    As any smoker/ex smoker would know, it takes more attention not to smoke.
  • by evil_aar0n (1001515) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:52PM (#31697152)

    Yes, but at the same time, law-makers can say, "I took a stand against this, and voted for your safety!!!1one!" The alternative is to stand around, impotently, and say, "We _have_ laws on the books; it's tha po-lice that ain't doin' their jobs." Law-makers have to consider "Directive #1": get re-elected.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:53PM (#31697160)

    can arguably be done perfectly safely in the right circumstances.

    I wouldn't call luck being "perfectly safe".

    Seriously, do you understand what you have to do to text while driving? You have to take your eyes off the road completely and focus most of your attention on entering your text message.

    Most of your job while driving is not keeping the vehicle running down the street straight. A six year old can do that (there are a number of COPS episodes that prove that). Most of your job as a driver is making sure you are not going to run into someone else, or that someone else is not going to run into you. It doesn't take a PHD in statistics to recognize that any activity that requires your entire attention, and requires you to remove your eyes from the road, is going to prevent you from doing your job as a driver. It isn't rocket science.

    I do believe it's fair to say that drunk driving is a causal factor in accidents - the difference being that alcohol is a cause of bad judgment while things like driving too fast for the conditions are an effect of bad judgment.

    There are a number of studies that show your judgment while just talking on a cell phone is nearly as impaired as being drunk. Can you honestly say texting is going to be better than that?

    Common sense man, you don't need a scientist to tell you everything. Correlation does not prove causation, sure, but this isn't bizzaro world where correlation proves there is no causation. Correlation is strong evidence suggesting a link, and a little common sense points out the obvious factors. Distractions cause accidents, in fact very few things cause accidents except distractions and chemical or physical impairments (i.e. drugs, alcohol, or sleep deprivation). To take something as distracting as texting and say you can't assume it causes accidents is down right idiotic.

    To sum it all up, you sir, are a dumbass.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:38PM (#31697392)
    Of course, truckers can still look up contacts, dial their phones...

    He would never find time in my truck. You need both hands, feet and plenty of concentration to double-declutch through the ratios on an 18-speed Eaton Fuller gearbox while keeping the rig moving in the right direction.
  • by spmkk (528421) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:41PM (#31697422)
    "Most of your job while driving is not keeping the vehicle running down the street straight. A six year old can do that"

    Since we are talking about "interstate truck and bus drivers", actually it IS. And since most truckers and bus drivers are presumably more developed than a six-year-old, maybe it's not necessary to force them into highway hypnosis [wikipedia.org] by making them do nothing else at all while keeping the vehicle running down the street straight.


    "Correlation is strong evidence suggesting a link, and a little common sense points out the obvious factors."

    Obvious != true. It is obvious that ice cream causes skin cancer, since places where people eat more ice cream have a substantially higher incidence of skin cancer. More to the point, it is obvious that talking on the phone while driving causes more accidents. Except that it doesn't [9wsyr.com].

    No, of course we don't need a scientist to tell us everything. But we DO need to avoid the cargo-cult approach to passing laws. For most of my life I've lived in a country where we don't impose restrictions without measurable benefit merely for the sake of imposing restrictions. I would kind of like that to continue.


    "To sum it all up, you sir, are a dumbass."

    That was well thought-out, eloquent and appropriate. It is the kind of comment that adds value to the conversation, substantiates your point of view, and encourages others to re-evaluate theirs.
  • tech solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mondotom (703921) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:02AM (#31697534) Homepage
    phones traveling greater than so many feet per second are disable for texting or phone needs to be in one place for longer than so many seconds before texting is enabled
  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @01:45AM (#31697940) Journal

    He would never find time in my truck. You need both hands, feet and plenty of concentration to double-declutch through the ratios on an 18-speed Eaton Fuller gearbox while keeping the rig moving in the right direction.

    Sorry, but every experienced truck driver I've ever known doesn't use the clutch except when starting and stopping. The rest of the time they do what's called floating--shifting gears without using the clutch. If you time your upshifts properly and match engine and tranny speeds on downshifts, it's a piece of cake. I do it all the time, even in my personal vehicle.

    You're absolutely right about needing plenty of concentration, though. Keeping one of those fuckers on the road can be challenging in the best of times. Add in traffic or wet roads or wind or ice and snow and it's white-knuckle time. Most of the companies I've driven for have policies forbidding the use of cell phones while driving, period, and for good reason.

  • by pydev (1683904) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @04:36AM (#31698644)

    There are three ways in which you can get a correlation: (1) A causes B, (2) B causes A, or (3) C causes A and B. In the case of ice cream and cancer, a little thought shows it's (3). In the case of texting and accidents, it's clear it's (1); there is no other possibility.

    More to the point, it is obvious that talking on the phone while driving causes more accidents. Except that it doesn't

    Your interpreting that data wrong. The law is ineffective because of lack of compliance, not because of lack of causation.

  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday April 01, 2010 @05:02AM (#31698756) Journal

    Let's assume all of the Toyota problems are due to the computer. Now how many crashes have occurred due to the problems? A small handful? Now compare that number by how many crashes have been caused by human error in the same makes and models of Toyota cars.

  • by tophermeyer (1573841) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @07:00AM (#31699182)

    I think its cute that you think Congress would allow itself to be limited to only the powers granted to it by the Constitution.

    In all seriousness, it seems likely that the Federal Government would encourage enforcement at the state and local level in the same ways they enforce speed limits and drinking ages. By offering Federal funds on the condition that states enforce the "suggested" requirement.

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