Drivers of commercial motor vehicles, such as trucks and buses, are prohibited from texting while driving, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced Jan 26.

The ban, effective immediately, subjects violators to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750, he said.

Department of Transportation officials say the ban is the result of interpretation of standing rules and was influenced by a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration research study that showed drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. It comes on the heels of an Executive Order that went into effect Dec. 30 directing federal employees to not engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment.

DOT officials said FMCSA is working on additional regulatory measures for electronic devices that will be announced in coming months. A notice of regulatory guidance (.pdf file) on the CMV texting ban was published in the Jan. 27 Federal Register.