Thursday, December 23, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Truckers Texting
Tonight, truck drivers sharing South Florida roads with you and me texting behind-the-wheel. It's been recently banned by the federal government, but is anybody putting the brakes on this behavior in Florida. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- Here in South Florida traffic on I-95 and the Turnpike is a part of daily life. Cars and even big semi trucks weave in and out of lanes, but slow down the video and check this out looks like this trucker is texting. Here's another one, his eyes are on his phone not on the road, and this guy looks like he has a phone to each ear with no hands on the wheel of his big-rig.
Our camera's caught these dangerous scenes over and over again on South Florida roads. Even though these truckers should know federal guidelines ban them from using their phones while driving.
A U.S. Department of Transportation edict came down in January of this year banning texting by drivers of commercial vehicles heavier than 10,000 pounds and some areas have banned truckers from even talking on cell phones.
Russell Hurd: "It's more than a tragedy, it's appalling."
Russell and Kim Hurd lost their daughter when her car was smashed by a truck driver who admitted he was texting at the time.
Russell Hurd: "Everyone has someone they love and adore, and it can all be taken from them in an instant."
But you can still find truckers across the country using their cell phones as they drive.
Ray LaHood: "I'm outraged about it because I know these people are not driving safely and I know they're not taking responsibility for these big huge vehicles they're driving ,and people are going to be injured and in some instances going to be killed."
Under the federal ban, a truck driver caught texting can be fined $2,750 but not in Florida. The feds left enforcement up to the individual states and officers here have no power to issue the hefty fine. In Florida get caught by a red light camera and the ticket is $158, but text and drive while behind the wheel on a giant truck and you'll pay less.
The Florida Department of Transportation tells 7 News officers right now can only "issue a uniform traffic citation." A $129 ticket in Miami-Dade County and $115 in Broward unless state lawmakers pass a bill making it illegal for truckers to text or talk on their cell phones. This highway hazard will most likely continue down the road.
Carmel Cafiero: "Some state lawmakers are still hoping to pass "Heather's Law" which would prohibit the use of handheld cell phones while driving. The legislature doesn't meet again until March of next year."
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