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Granted, texting while driving is dangerous and should not be done. However tragic the loss of Elissa Schee's daughter is, I think the way that particular segment was presented is done in such a way that takes a cheap shot against the MILLIONS of professional drivers out there that operate daily on the roadways of America. Just because the driver of the truck that struck the bus was on his cell phone at the time doesn't mean that every driver who operates a Class 8 truck is so one-track minded that they block out everything else that goes on around them. Sec. LaHood, if you choose to make your vehicle a no-call zone that's your right. However, there are a vast number of owner-operators of single truck businesses that conduct their operational business from the cab of their truck while going down the highway with the aid of a hands-free device. A recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that "one noteworthy finding from the analyses was the result for cell phone use. As indicated above, reaching for or dialing a cell phone were associated as high-risk tasks. However, talking or listening on a hand-held phone was found to have an odds ratio that was not significantly different than 1.0 (thus, it did not elevate the likelihood of being involved in a safety-critical event); this finding was consistent with Klauer et al. (2006). Furthermore, talking or listening on a hands-free phone provided a significant protective effect (OR = 0.4). A similar significant protective effect was found for using a CB radio (OR = 0.6)." This study can be found at So, my point is that, as with anything, due care should be taken in any activity. Any time I receive a call when I'm behind the wheel, I make sure that I have a hands-free device accessible. If I need to make a call while driving I simply press a button on my bluetooth headset and use the voice activation functionality. The study indicates that simply talking on the phone while driving doesn't mean that you're distracted and that your risk of being involved in an accident is actually significantly REDUCED if hands-free technology is available. In conclusion, Sec. LaHood, the days of being able to pull into a truck stop and finding a pay phone to make a call are long gone. If you want to mandate that hands-free technology be used for any professional (or otherwise) driver while traveling, fine. I can live with that. But, please don't dictate how I need to conduct my business by telling me that I can't operate safely simply because I need to make a call while driving.
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Nov 18, 2010