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Federal Agency Considering Ban on Truck Driver Distractions

After its ban on text messaging by truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could soon move towards banning other kinds of distractions in truck cabs, including CB radios and dispatch systems.

Last week, the agency's Chief Safety Officer spoke to a meeting of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, saying that her agency would look at minimizing all kinds of other distractions that a truck driver faces in the cab. CB radios and dispatch systems are on the list, but they're not the only items that the agency is likely to target. It's clear that the agency is looking beyond cell phones and text messaging devices in its efforts to keep truck driver attention focused 100% on the highway.

However, the FMCSA will have to consider that many of the devices used by truck drivers in their cabs are necessary for two-way communication between the driver and the trucking company. In fact, the FMCSA admits that any proposal it will develop to ban distractions in truck cabs will not interfere with these processes.

As New York truck accident lawyers, we would urge the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to look closer at regulation of the growing use of computers in trucks. These small computers help the truck driver say in touch with his office, check e-mails , surf the Internet, receive directions, receive new orders and perform a number of other important activities.

Technically, a truck driver is not supposed to log onto a computer when he's driving. He must stop the truck before he logs onto the computer. However, that, very often, does not happen. It can be an inconvenience to pull over, or there may simply be no place to pull over to log on to the computer.

The New York Times last year had a report on the serious distractions that truck drivers are exposed to when they use these computers while driving. While the trucking industry will not agree to ban the use of computers in trucks, the FMCSA should at least look at how it can restrict the use of these devices.

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