Whether or not motorists should be allowed to use cell phones while driving is a subject open for debate. The American Trucking Association (ATA) recently weighed in with its opinion and joined in support of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) proposed ban on hand-held mobile devices.
The ATA previously supported a ban on texting for commercial truck drivers while a truck is in motion-a law which now prohibits approximately four million drivers from texting while driving. The ATA has also supported state and federal laws that ban mobile phone use for all motorists, not just commercial truck drivers. Citing its progressive safety agenda for the safe use of technology, the president and CEO of the ATA stated that the association seeks laws that ban all drivers from using hand-held mobile devices in order to make highways safer.
The FMCSA’s proposal would ban the use of all hand-held mobile devices by commercial truck drivers. This ban would prohibit even the hands-free use of the devices, and not even allow truck drivers to reach for mobile phones in their trucks while in motion. These are two areas in which the ATA deviates from the proposal of the FMCSA.
The ATA asserts that the use of hands-free devices should be excluded from the ban. The ATA believes that commercial truck drivers should be allowed to reach for a mobile phone, and push a limited amount of numbers, in order to make a hands-free call. The ATA points out that research has shown that hands-free devices have a safety benefit for truck drivers. Additionally, the ATA suggests that allowing commercial drivers to reach for a phone is no different than allowing commercial drivers to reach for a C.B. or radio dial, activities that are clearly not proscribed by law.
In other words, while both the ATA and the FMCSA agree that the use of hand-held mobile devices provide an increased risk of truck accidents on the road due to driver distraction, they differ in opinion regarding the potential dangers and benefits of hands-free mobile devices.