WASHINGTON. The U.S. government yesterday banned handheld “texting” by drivers of large commercial trucks and buses to avoid the danger of distracted driving.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement the prohibition takes effect immediately. It follows a similar ban in December for drivers of federal government vehicles.

“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” LaHood said. “This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”

 

The National Safety Council, a research and advocacy group, estimates that 200,000 crashes of all types on U.S. roads are caused by drivers who are “texting.”