This week Alabama joined 37 other states and banned texting while driving. The law goes into effect on August 1, 2012.  The fine for violating the law is $25 for a first-time offense, $50 for a second offense and $75 for a third or subsequent offense.  Although these amounts are nothing more than a slap on the wrist, the law at least sends the message that texting while driving should not be done.

Texting has become a national pastime (about 200 billion texts in the United States per month), and driving while texting is extremely dangerous1:

  • Texting while driving creates a crash risk that is 23 times greater than when a driver is not distracted;
  • Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, long enough for a driver going 55 miles-per-hour to drive the entire length of a football field;
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves; and
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.

Interstate Truck Drivers Banned from Texting and
Any Cell Phone Use While Driving

 Although there are still a few states that have not banned texting while driving, commercial drivers in interstate transportation (semi truck drivers, tour bus drivers, etc.) are not allowed to text while driving (or use a cell phone at all) throughout the United States.

In November of 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted a rule banning commercial drivers from using a cell phone while operating a commercial truck or bus. Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

1. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.