Safety

FMCSA clarifies texting ban

Posted on February 2, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal ban on texting for truck and bus drivers unveiled last week only applies to school bus drivers in limited cases, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) official clarified.

Tom Yager, chief of the FMCSA’s Driver and Carrier Operations Division, told SBF that the texting ban applies to drivers who are covered by 49 CFR 390.17. School bus drivers are not covered if they are employees of a government agency, such as a school board, or if they are operating within the same state or transporting students to and from school.

An example of a school bus driver who would be covered by 390.17 is a contractor-employed driver transporting students on a field trip out of state.

Still, FMCSA may seek to ban other school bus drivers from texting.

“FMCSA has indicated that we will be issuing a proposed rule, hopefully within a few months, that will elaborate on the texting guidance that was issued,” Yager said. “It is possible that the proposed rule may affect school bus drivers not currently covered by 390.17, but that is only a possibility.”

Some states already specifically prohibit school bus drivers from using cell phones — hand-held or hands-free — and some states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones or just from texting.

 

Related Topics: cell phones, distracted driving, FMCSA

Comments ( 7 )
  • Robert Evans

     | about 8 years ago

    Wow...the difference in standards between school owned bus fleets and contractor owned fleets is difficult to ignore! Does it make sense to require one group of employee bus drivers to comply with federal regulations while allowing the other group to be self regulated? This approach appears to defy common sense. As a Supervisor of a school owned bus fleet, I require all my drivers to comply with DOT duty limitations, cell phone limitations, and any other safety related practice to help ensure our students safety. God knows that this did not happen overnight. Traditions like assigning drivers to be on shift for 22 hours with cat naps in the bus saved the school a lot of money. Practices that I know many school owned bus fleets in the state continue to use. My questions is simple...why not require a consistent set of regulations to apply to both contractors and school districts? Is the safety of students transported by school owned buses less important than those transported by contractor owned buses? Are the tax moneies that are used to pay for contract bus service valued differently than monies used to pay a school owned bus fleet? For an industry that places such great empathsis on safety, it appears that we are ignoring an obvious problem.

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