Pressure builds for ban

Widespread support for a complete ban on cell phone use by commercial truck and bus drivers both handheld and hands-free is rapidly increasing. This follows an accident report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to speed up efforts to put a ban in place. The NTSB recommendation followed its investigation of a March

Widespread support for a complete ban on cell phone use by commercial truck and bus drivers — both handheld and hands-free — is rapidly increasing. This follows an accident report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to speed up efforts to put a ban in place.

The NTSB recommendation followed its investigation of a March 2010 crash that killed 11 people, which found the tractor-trailer driver cited for causing the accident used his cell phone 69 times in the 24 hours prior to the crash, with four calls made in the minutes leading up to the fatal collision.

Though FMCSA has proposed a ban on cell phone use by commercial truck and bus drivers, many feel that effort is moving too slowly.

The National Safety Council (NSC) is one group strongly urging faster adoption of the NTSB's proposed ban on cell phone use by commercial vehicle drivers, noting that its research indicates that 23% of all crashes each year involve cell phone use.

“We strongly support the NTSB recommendation for a total ban,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president & CEO, in a statement. “We called for a national ban on all cell phone use among drivers in 2009, recognizing that research shows no safety benefit from hands-free devices. The distraction to the brain from cell phone use can cause drivers to miss seeing up to 50% of their driving environment.”

The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) supports a ban on handheld cell phone use for both talking and texting. The association believes that ban should be for all motorists, though, and not just commercial drivers. ATA does not support a ban on hands-free devices, arguing that there is no evidence to support a conclusion that crash risk is elevated by the use of such devices.

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