OOIDA supports a ban on texting while driving

| 10/5/2009

OOIDA says safe driving begins with education, and that has provided the fuel behind the Association’s position on distracted driving.

OOIDA issued a statement Monday, Oct. 5, saying the Association supports a ban on texting while operating a moving vehicle. OOIDA is also calling upon government entities “to educate the motoring public about driving around large trucks and encourages law enforcement agencies to fully enforce existing laws on inattentive or negligent driving.”

The Association conducts a Safe Driver Award program each year, which recognizes members for accident-free driving. Participants have been documented as having anywhere from 15 to 35 years of accident-free driving, and some have more than 40 years.

“Professional truckers are the safest drivers on the road per vehicle miles traveled,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer stated. “They have a vested interest in highway safety as their lives and livelihoods quite literally depend on it.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation held a summit this past week on distracted driving at which OOIDA was an invited participant.

Eighteen states have some sort of texting restriction on the books for drivers, while others have taken up the issue or are considering legislation. The state of Utah, for example, has strict penalties similar to those outlined in drunken driving laws.

On a federal level, U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-NY, and others introduced HR3535, the ALERT Drivers Act, on Thursday, Oct. 1.

HR3535 is a companion to Senate bill S1536, introduced in July by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY and others. Both congressional bills seek a ban on text messaging with fines for violations. Lawmakers want states to adopt texting bans or face rations in the transportation funding they receive from the feds.

OOIDA continues to promote safe driving among all vehicle classes.

Spencer said more programs are needed to educate the motoring public about driving around big rigs. Various states have programs that involve an officer riding along with an owner-operator to spot motorists who drive irresponsibly around commercial vehicles.

“These and related types of programs would go a long way in influencing highway safety,” Spencer said.

OOIDA, Land Line Magazine and Land Line Now continue to gauge how members, readers and listeners feel about the issue of text messaging behind the wheel.

A recent Land Line Magazine poll showed 82 percent of respondents favor a ban on texting while driving, while a separate Land Line poll indicated that 56 percent of respondents say “no way” to an all-out ban on talking on cell phones while driving. About 27 percent said “good idea” to an all-out cell ban while 17 percent said they would agree to an all-out ban “only if there’s an exception for truckers.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer