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Fall 2011 | Vol. 13 | No. 3
NTSB to States: Ban All Cell Phone Use by Commercial Drivers
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that all 50 states enact laws to prohibit the use of both handheld and hands-free cellular telephones by all commercial driver’s license holders while operating a commercial vehicle, except in emergencies. The recommendation comes as a result of an NTSB investigation into a deadly crash that killed 11 people, in which cell phone distraction was found to be the probable cause.
The crash took place in March 2010 near Munfordville, Kentucky on Interstate 65. A 18-wheel semi-truck crossed over the median and struck a 15-passenger van, carrying eight adults, two small children and an infant. The truck driver and 10 of the 12 van occupants were killed. Investigators determined that the truck driver had been using his phone just prior to the crash.
In addition to calling for states to prohibit commercial drivers from using mobile phones, NTSB made several additional recommendations, including two specifically directed at GHSA:
- Work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to add a standard definition for “crossmedian crash” and a data element for cross median crash accidents to the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria.
- Inform [GHSA] members of the circumstances of this accident, emphasizing that most of the van occupants who died in the accident were not restrained by seat belts and that, like Kentucky, other states may have seat belt laws that do not cover 15-passenger vans and similar vehicles.
In addition, NTSB specifically recommends that Kentucky revises its seat belt law to apply to all vehicles designed to carry 15 or fewer passengers. NTSB acknowledged that the recommendation to ban all cell phone use – including hands-free devices – may not be popular. According to Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, “We’re not here to be popular. We’re here to do what needs to be done.”
For more information about the NTSB recommendations, visit www.ntsb.gov/news/2011/110913.html.