America

Truckers Don't Want Texting Ban To Apply To Them

A Werner Enterprises truck travels on Interstate 680 west of Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, May 13, 2009. ( i

We need to stay in touch, truckers say. Safety advocates worry. Nati Harnik/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Nati Harnik/AP
A Werner Enterprises truck travels on Interstate 680 west of Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, May 13, 2009. (

We need to stay in touch, truckers say. Safety advocates worry.

Nati Harnik/AP

While much attention has been paid in recent months to the dangers of texting-while-driving, the focus of most stories has been on passenger vehicles and their drivers.

The New York Times today takes a look at the nation's truckers and why they say the growing number of laws that ban texting while operating a motor vehicle should not apply to their use of computer devices that keep them in touch with dispatchers.

Clayton Boyce, spokesman for the American Trucking Association, tells the Times that:

Computers used by truckers require less concentration than phones. The trucks "have a screen that has maybe two or four or six lines" of text, he said. "And they're not reading the screen every second."

But, the Times reports:

Some safety advocates and researchers say the devices — which can include a small screen near the steering wheel and a keyboard on the dash or in the driver's lap — present precisely the same risk as other devices. And the risk may be even greater, they note, given the size of 18-wheel tractor trailers and the longer time required for them to stop.

Truckers, of course, aren't the only professional drivers on the roads who use such devices to communicate with their offices. Taxi drivers have them. Package deliverers do. So do sales reps.

Wednesday in Washington, there's a Transportation Department conference on legislation that would deny federal highway funds to states that don't ban texting while driving.

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