February 23, 2011 11:00 AM, EST

ATA Supports Hand-Held Phone Ban for Truck Drivers

American Trucking Associations has told the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that it supports the proposed ban on hand-held phone use by commercial vehicle drivers.

In a comment filed with the agency Tuesday, ATA said that it supports FMCSA's efforts to prohibit hand-held phone use, though it cautioned against limiting the use of hands-free devices.

“ATA’s progressive safety agenda calls for the safe use of technology and our associations’ policy calls for laws and regulations that ban all motorists from using hand-held mobile phones while driving,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement Wednesday.

“Recognizing the risks of hand held mobile phone use, it simply makes sense to prohibit their use by all motorists to make the highways safer for everyone.”

ATA asked that FMCSA not prohibit drivers from pushing “a limited number of buttons in order to initiate a hands-free call,” nor should the be prohibited from reaching for a phone.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told FMCSA it opposes a ban on hand-held phone use by drivers.

“Indeed, cell phone use is no more distracting than other types of communications and electronic equipment used regularly by truck drivers such as in-cab fleet management devices, global positioning and other navigation systems, and Citizens Band (CB) radios that have not received the same level of scrutiny by FMCSA,” it said in a comment filed Tuesday.

In the comment, OOIDA reiterated its support for FMCSA’s current ban on texting while driving.