Deadly truck accident spurs call for a ban on truck driver cellphone use

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended a prohibition against cellphone use by truckers this Tuesday. The recommendations against commercial driver cell phone use come after a hearing concerning one of the most deadly truck accidents in the country. The accident happened last spring when a semi-truck hit a passenger van head on and killed 11 people. The truck driver was likely distracted by a phone at the time of the crash, the board found.

"Texting or talking on the phone while driving can turn deadly in a matter of seconds, particularly when a big rig or a bus is involved," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says. "There is no call or text message that is worth risking lives."

Authorities believe that the truck driver had finished a call on his phone when he crossed the median of Interstate 65 and hit the van.

"It's a lesson for me about how the use of the cellphones have a big impact," said a father of one of the victims of the crash. "They do distract you. I'm guilty of that myself."

The transportation board's recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration replaces a 5-year-old recommendation for a ban on cellphone use by commercial drivers and school bus drivers. Other organizations such as The American Trucking Associations supported a cellphone ban for drivers, but did not call for a ban of hands-free phones.

Governors Highway Safety Association says that although nine states and the District of Columbia ban handheld phones while driving and 34 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving, no states ban all cellphone use.

Source: USA Today, "Safety board: Ban cellphone use by truckers," Bart Jansen, Sept. 14, 2011

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