back to article Truck drivers! Don't go texting now

Fresh from the department of the bleeding obvious comes the news that truck drivers sending text messages are more likely to have accidents than those paying attention to the road ahead. To be fair to the boffins at Virginia Tech, they did do proper research - fitting video cameras into more than 100 trucks and collecting …


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  1. Tom_

    How many trucks

    I wonder how many more than 100 trucks were monitored in this research. It seems unlikely that you'd get many accidents from 100, so your conclusions on the increased risks would be pretty iffy.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Saw the article just after having laughed at this...

  3. red hal

    I'm in my car now

    and I don't think it's "that" obv

    Sent From My Blackberry Handheld.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    I can't help thinking that if you're stupid enough to be texting while there's a camera in your cab, you're probably too stupid to be driving.

  5. Martin 19
    Thumb Down


    we need to specifically ban every action that might be dangerous while driving, even though there are already bans on generally "doing dangerous things while driving".

    May I suggest bans on: "wanking while driving", "driving without a head", "driving while covered in concentrated sulphuric acid", "driving backwards at night without lights at over 150mph after drinking a litre of vodka and taking 5 ecstasy pills", "driving while distracted by thinking about what situations it is legal to drive in" etc etc etc

  6. Prodigal Rebel

    Dangerous while Driving

    ... Smoking... fiddeling around looking for the cigarette, then finding the lighter and bringing it to the cig and replacing it... Takes a good minute i would say one's attention is on the lil loyal soldier

  7. Remy Redert

    Professional drivers

    Is what most truck drivers are. They spend a lot of time on the road and have a lot of experience. It would make sense if they knew where to put their attention, even when talking on the phone.

    They also get plenty of experience with that with their on-board radios too, so I'm not too surprised that handsfree calling isn't a major risk for most of them, unlike most of the dumpties out on the road in their SUVs.

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    I used to watch the road

    Now that speed limits have become much lower, I watch the speedometer instead.

  9. Iggle Piggle

    The conclusions should be obvious.

    "But the conclusions - that sending text messages while driving is really very dangerous - should surely be obvious to everyone by now."

    Yes, you would have thought so wouldn't you. But clearly some people are just either too stupid to realise that is it dangerous or, possibly, they are driving a big heavy lorry and feel safe in the knowledge that it is likely the other guy who will come off worse in any accident.

  10. Geoff Webber

    not restricted to lorry drovers

    I have seen kids (yoofs) on mopeds texting as they ride along the road. Obviously they dont wear gloves as that wuld cors mispeling.

    Armoured jacket in case I fall off

  11. Tom 106

    he he

    Does that mean an end to their mag reading too?

  12. Graham Bartlett
    Big Brother

    Why have an extra law?

    Don't know what the US equivalent is, but in the UK there's "driving without due care and attention", and I bet they've got something similar. And looking at your phone whilst driving certainly qualifies as not putting due C&A into your driving.

    I wish people would stop inventing new laws when there's already existing ones that cover it. People do stuff when they're driving which distracts them, and if it causes an accident then they deserve to be done for it. Whether it's texting, changing a CD, turning round to shout at their kids, or scratching their testicles (or their partner's testicles), if it stops you watching the road then you shouldn't be doing it. You don't need a separate law against "glancing down to see where that M&M you dropped happened to fall, in case it landed on the seat and you could retrieve it and eat it".

  13. Martin 19

    @Prodigal Rebel "Smoking... fiddeling around looking for the cigarette"...

    Yeah right. Takes me 15 seconds, with eyes straight ahead (on the road) at all times. Plus of course one chooses one's moment before lighting a growler (eg not while traversing a busy roundabout).

    /fire, for obvious reasons

  14. LuMan

    And in other news...

    ...experts have confirmed that licking overhead powerlines while juggling veloceraptors is also hazardous to your health!

  15. Stephen Brown

    Who on earth ...

    ... pays for all this crap research? I want an invisible cloak?!! That would be much more useful than a study that concludes "if you don't pay attention to the road, you're more likely to drive into someones house" Balls

  16. Matt Thornton

    bleeding obvious

    What's more worrying is that some genius thought this "research" was worth $6m.

  17. Graham Marsden

    @Remy Redert

    Truck drivers, taxi drivers, white van man and many others are not "Professional Drivers"!

    Simply racking up a larger number of miles every year does *not* make them better or more "professional" than the average driver, in fact it can make them worse because they have an over-confident view of their driving "skills" which is simply not warranted and may make them think, incorrectly, that they can use mobiles etc safely whilst driving

    Even Emergency Service drivers make mistakes and they are trained to a higher standard which would give them at least a reasonable claim to be "professional" drivers.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Stephen Brown

    Oh, I can get you an invisible cloak, easy. Ask El Reg to get you in touch.

    If you want an INVISIBILITY cloak, that's another matter.

  19. Jason 24

    @Flocke Kroes

    I have to agree here fully. I've only been driving 4 weeks now, but on an hour drive on Saturday night I was looking at my speedometer a hell of a lot, more than is safe I think, but I sure as shit don't want to risk getting 6 points and being banned already from ticking 3mph over the speed limit.

    Fuck this country, I am out of here as soon as I can. Which means watching my speedometer for at least 2 more years until I can drive abroad! FFS!

    Fail for the government and stupid laws.

  20. Chrome


    @Martin 19 and @Flocke Kroes

    Couldn't agree more

  21. Trevor Watt

    A title is required.

    By Iggle Piggle Posted Tuesday 28th July 2009 10:49 GMT

    " they are driving a big heavy lorry and feel safe in the knowledge that it is likely the other guy who will come off worse in any accident."

    By Graham Marsden Posted Tuesday 28th July 2009 12:15 GMT

    "Truck drivers... are not "Professional Drivers"!

    Simply racking up a larger number of miles every year does *not* make them better or more "professional" than the average driver, in fact it can make them worse because they have an over-confident view of their driving "skills" which is simply not warranted and may make them think, incorrectly, that they can use mobiles etc safely whilst driving."

    Truck drivers, or more correctly LGV drivers have to undergo a driving test to receive their vocational licence, and then have 35 hours of training for their professional CPC, without which they will not be able to work. The CPC then needs renewed every 5 years requiring another 35 hours of training. Compare that to the fact that most car and van drivers last looked at a copy of the Highway Code when they passed their driving test.

    Couple with that the strict H&S laws and you will find that the vast majority of haulage firms regularly asses their drivers abilities, if they did not the risks to the companies would be huge.

    And every LGV driver is very aware that if he or she has an accident the consequences would be dire for all those involved, when you crash a car you don't have 32 tonnes of load behind you to crush your cab into the size of a sardine can, momentum is a scary thing!

    Graham Marsden, did you read the article, the evidence shows that truck drivers are no more likely to have an accident when using their mobile phone, that is what the study said, you obviously think it is wrong in your mind, why is that exactly?

  22. Martin 19

    @Graham Marsden

    "Truck drivers, taxi drivers, white van man and many others are not "Professional Drivers"! Simply racking up a larger number of miles every year does *not* make them better or more "professional" than the average driver.."

    They ARE 'professional drivers', by definition. They earn their living by driving, hence their 'profession' is driving, hence they are 'professional drivers'.

    This does not of course mean that they are all 'good drivers' though.

  23. ratfox
    Thumb Up

    @Why have an extra law

    The point is to have a good reason to blame the texting driver after the accident.

    Otherwise, the lawyer will counter the argument "driver was not paying attention

    because he was texting" with such wonders as "it has never been proved that texting

    diminishes the attention of a driver" and "if it was dangerous, it would be forbidden".

  24. Brian Miller

    Yeah, obvious, read news for consequences

    A few years back in Portland, Oregon, there was a very nasty accident where a semi running at 60mph plowed into a number of cars stopped due to rush-hour traffic. The truck driver had been busy texting on his phone at the time. The only reason that he didn't go to jail for a very long time is because he immediately jumped out of his truck and started attending to the accident victims.

    And of course there was the commuter train wreck in California from a texting engineer.

  25. N2

    Its OK to text

    Providing you are a Polish lorry driver with a half empty bottle of Vodka in the other hand...

  26. Anonymous Coward


    Is the driver's activity directly related to vehicle control? (Steering, gears etc). That activity is OK.

    Is the driver's activity indirectly related to vehicle control or to secondary functions? (Radio, windows etc). That activity is OK when safe to do so and the driver can retain control.

    Is the driver's activity anything else? (Eating, smoking, texting, making a phone call) That activity should either be performed by a passenger, or the driver should stop somewhere safe and do it.

    It's not hard people. When driving, just drive. NOTHING in your life is so important that it can't wait 5 minutes whilst you find somewhere safe to stop. And NOTHING in your life is worth killing or maiming someone for.

  27. Bucky 2

    Yes,, but...yes, but...

    Well, of course texting while driving is dangerous.

    But that doesn't really apply to me, because I'm a good driver.

    Also, I'm just going to be texting for a few moments, so how bad can that be?

    Besides, the road looks pretty clear. I'll just make sure to look back and forth a lot.

  28. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Enough specific laws

    "36 US states still don't have a ban on texting while driving. One could argue that existing legislation covering other forms of careless driving should be applicable, '

    Exactly - the UK introduces a law banning cell phone calls while driving, but didn't include txting. So spend another 3years writing/passing a law banning texting and then discover it doesn't cover email, or skype or IM or holograms of Princess Leia saying "help me white van man your my only hope"

    We need less specific laws and some common sense, or at least a government not totally made up of lawyers.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why a new law would be good.

    Current legislation does cover texting, but it is rare that anyone is prosecuted until there is a very serious (usually fatal) accident. Teenagers (in particular) know that they are immortal, and that road deaths have nothing to do with them, so there is no chance of them being given any more than an annoying fine or couple of points at worst. If texting carried a 6 month ban, £2000 fine and the possibility of 3 Months in prison for serious cases, they would think twice. For the same reason I would have a 2 month ban and £1000 fine for using a mobile without hands free. I see people driving while on mobiles several times a day. I think using a hands free is no different to talking to a back seat passanger - if the driver is unable to cut off when they need to concentrate they should not be behind the wheel.

  30. ThinkingOutLoud
    Paris Hilton


    I often hear drivers boast about all their years of experience driving, to which I always reply: "Wait, is that 20 years cumulative experience or your first year 20 times over?"

    Unless they actively continue learning and developing their skills, they're just lucky better drivers around them make allowances for their incompetence.

    While I believed I was a good driver, I was no different to anyone else. So, I took the RoSPA Advanced Driving Test and passed to Gold standard. (Close to being as good as it gets for civilians - police go even further.) At least now someone else agrees with me!

    We DO have existing laws to deal with this, as stated frequently above. I'm on the replace-airbags-with-steel-spikes camp...

    Paris because I'd happily let her sit on my lap while I drive - and I'd rather she was the one impaled on the spike when I crash.

  31. Graham Marsden

    @Trevor Watt

    "did you read the article, the evidence shows that truck drivers are no more likely to have an accident when using their mobile phone"

    Err did *YOU* read the article?

    "truck drivers sending text messages are more likely to have accidents than those paying attention to the road ahead."

    And if they are as "professional" as you claim, surely they would be *less* likely to have accidents (let alone do stupid things like text whilst driving which was the whole *point* of the article).

    For a little more food for thought: Last winter I was riding my motorcycle on the M27 on a foggy night (visibility was so bad I'd slowed down to 40mph!) I wasn't too surprised to be over-taken by idiotic car drivers doing 70-80mph, but when an artic came past me...?

  32. Maty


    How is it that the people who urge draconian laws to further lower the (already low) chance of their kid being molested by a stranger are happy enough to take them on the roads where they have a much, much higher chance of being killed by an innattentive truck driver?

    Reminds me of the time when I rode a bicycle and soon learned that the most vicious sods on four wheels were those displaying 'baby on board' signs. Rather than ever more refined laws, how about one that says 'driver was hurling over a ton of potentially lethal metal at high speed down a road used by other members of the public, and failed to act according to his consequent responsibilities.'

  33. disgruntled yank

    Extra laws

    The District of Columbia has for a couple of years had a law on the books against driving while using a cell phone, save in hands-free mode. Yet if I walk down a busy street in DC and do not see several drivers with phone to ear, it's because I'm not paying attention. The police do write tickets, I understand, but not at any rate that would have an effect.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Well duh...

    Perhaps they should also consider not haivng laptops mounted on their dashboards as well?

    <clarkson>Better yet, perhaps they should concentrate on what they're good at and stick to murdering prostitutes...</clarkson>

  35. Stevie


    You'd think it was obvious, but then there are those touch-sensitive GUIs that are so popular in SUVs these days, and that are set waaaaay down in the center console requiring not only one (or more) hands be removed from the wheel but that the entire head be swivelled away from the road for seconds at a time while a coversation is had with the stereo or GPS system.

    Which is why we have had two new phone poles outside out house in 18 months.

    It seems that "Bloom County" has become real life: If you have an automatic gearbox and cruise control, what need is there of an actual driver?

  36. I didn't do IT.

    @Graham Marsden

    Sorry, but that's the difference between US and UK showing, but I am sure UK has something similar. After all, it is The Nanny State(tm)!

    US drivers have to pass a prescribed course and undergo biannual review courses and tests to retain their permits, let alone the quaterly physicals. A commercial driving license (CDL) A level (for the big rigs) is *not* easy to come by and many hundreds of every thousand fail every year. Compare that those failures already have passed tests for normal driving, and yes, that places them in the "professional" category.

    Remember, the only thing that makes someone a professional is someone else saying so on a piece of paper. Doctor's in the 1890's were simply the guys with the pliers and scalpels, after all.

    Don't like it? Blame the Prussians and the concept of PhD's... interesting thing, history.

  37. Charles Manning

    I can use VoIP legally!

    The problem with specific laws is that they cost far too much to keep up to date and that they don't pass any common sense test.

    Making cell phone calls illegal, but allowing VoIP or TETRA radio calls or whatever is plain nonsense.

    Banning text messaging, but allowing people to use email or the www to make comments is equally stupid. Then where do you draw the line? Is reading really any different to fiddling with your TomTom?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Laws seem to do nothing

    The laws did nothing here in the UK, Plod is simply fining people for eating a choocy bar at the wheel, while Mr BMW ( BMW and lorry drivers get special licences that allow them to do whatever they like on the road, I know, I checked! ) drives past at 95pmh, coffee in one hand mobile in the other, driving with his knees on the wheel!

    No excuses, you drive the car, nothing else matters,OK? Do you think you're so utterly important to the survival to the human race that you cannot wait to tell you mate about some sh*te TV show you watched last night, that you would risk other people's lives? If you have to arrange something, then stop or, and here's a novel idea, PLAN AND DISCUSS IT BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR!

    I have bluettooth handsfree in my car, passenger use only. My mobile goes off when I get in the car and I am driving. I am simply not that conceited to think I matter that much to all and sundry that my calls can't wait 20-30 mins.

  39. Christopher Martin


    Tired of all this shit. Laws only give cops things to charge you with (How can we fuck with the black guy sitting at that red light... oh shit! He's texting, arrest him!) How is anyone actually going to enforce this by noticing you texting where it's dangerous, like while people are driving? Anyway, texting is not the problem. People driving without paying attention is the problem, and you can do that no matter what else you're also doing. The way this is generally enforced is that if you drive without regard for the safety of others, you're also driving without regard for your own safety, which most people aren't willing to do. If you are a moron who is willing to kill himself on the highway, then no manner of laws dictating what exactly you can and cannot do with your cellular telephone is going to prevent you from killing you and somebody else on the highway.

  40. Dangerous Dave


    people need to take their eyes off the road to send a text message?

    That's another thing you CANT do on an iPhone :)

  41. Alan B

    @ Enough specific laws - Martin 6

    You said "...the UK introduces a law banning cell phone calls while driving, but didn't include txting..."

    Erm, Try using a little bit of common sense. It certainly DOES include texting! The law BANS THE USE of a handheld mobile phone whilst driving. If you are texting, you are using a handheld mobile phone, therefore it is forbidden whilst driving. Pretty obvious when you think about it, isn't it?

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Ban map checking...

    ...because the map is on my "cell phone."

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