A grain truck travels south along K-23 highway near Gove County, Kan., Thursday, April 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Stay off the phone, DOT says. (Orlin Wagner/AP)

By Mark Memmott

The U.S. Transportation Department's push to get us all to put our cellphones down when we're driving continues.

Today's news, as the Associated Press reports, is that DOT:

Is prohibiting truck and bus drivers from sending text messages while operating commercial vehicles.
The prohibition, which applies to drivers of interstate buses and trucks over 10,000 pounds, is effective immediately, the department said in a statement. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750, the department said.

"Distracted driving" is a big issue with DOT these days. If you want to see why the department's so serious about it, check the website Distraction.gov. One scary fact you'll find there:

-- Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured.

NPR's Brian Naylor adds that DOT estimates a driver traveling at 55 mph takes his eyes off the road for at least five seconds -- and that the vehicle goes the length of a football field -- when sending and receiving texts:

We've asked about this issue before, but it's been a while. So here are a couple more questions. We'll hold them open until noon ET Wednesday:

categories: National News, Technology

9:00 - January 26, 2010