Texas passes cell phone, idling regs

The Texas State Legislature passed several new bills in its most recent session that will affect the trucking industry in the state. The two most prominent are in regards to idling and cell phone use.

No longer will drivers be allowed to use wireless devices within a school zone while operating their vehicles unless it is a hands-free device or the vehicle is stopped. If the goal, and I assume it is, is to improve safety around schools where children walk and play - oftentimes not paying attention to their surroundings – then I’m fine with that.

There is, of course the debate about whether hands-free devices are any safer than using an actual phone, but the alternative may be banning phone use altogether. And from someone who drives about 120 miles a day to and from work, that may not be such a bad idea at all. But I digress.

The other law with a big impact is the idling regulation. No longer can trucks sit idle while drivers rest in their sleeper berths. That’s good for the environment, but not so much for fleets pocketbooks. As we know, it can get warm in Texas in the summer. It is good for the APU industry, though, as any fleet traveling into Texas will want to have some sort of auxiliary cooling and heating system.

The new laws go into effect September 1.