Horrific Accident Which Killed 11 Prompts NTSB To Recommend Banning All Cell Phone Use, Including Hands-Free, By Commercial Drivers

Following investigation of a 2010 highway accident in Kentucky in which 11 people were killed the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended a total ban on all cell phone use by commercial drivers including hands-free use. The driver of the tractor trailer at fault for the accident was on his phone at the time of the accident. Data collected by the NTSB showed that the driver of the tractor-trailer was texting and making calls “frequently” in the hours leading up to the accident. The NTSB documented 69 calls or texts made by the driver while driving in the 24-hours prior to the accident. And the board noted, “In the minutes before the 5:14 a.m. crash, the driver made three phone calls, the last one at 5:14.”

Changing behavior can start right now, for drivers of big rigs, but also for the rest of us,” NTSB Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “When you are at the wheel, driving safely should be your only focus.” US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stated “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. That is why the U.S. Department of Transportation has already banned commercial drivers from texting while driving and has rulemaking underway to ban hand-held cell phone use. There is no call or text message that is worth risking lives.” The NTSB , which does not have rule-making authority sent its recommendation to the states and federal government. The ban, if enacted, would affect almost 4 million drivers.

It was also stressed that employers could make the roads safer by enacting policies for their employee/drivers and making sure those drivers knew that their jobs depended upon compliance.

We would love your comments on this recommendation. Should cell phone use be banned for commercial drivers? Does your company have a safe driving policy?