The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are both moving forward with proposals to convince federal lawmakers to ban all behind-the-wheel mobile phone use – even hands-free – by truckers and other commercial drivers (including bus, delivery and mass transit operators).
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have already passed regulations that would prohibit commercial truckers from text messaging behind the wheel, but this one would go farther, prohibiting ALL cellphone use while driving, including the use of hands-free headsets or Bluetooth devices.
The move comes on the heels of the investigation into a widely publicized Kentucky highway crash – labeled by some as the worst in a generation – that killed 11 people. The NTSB determined that a distracted commercial truck driver caused the accident that killed himself and 10 other motorists by using his cellphone while driving. The NTSB was able to prove that in the 24 hours prior to the tragedy, the driver had used his cellphone a whopping 69 times, making four calls in the minutes just before the accident, with the last call coming at the precise time his semitruck left the roadway.
Even though transportation industry experts like those at the American Trucking Association say that trucking companies can adequately police the cellphone use of their drivers by instituting internal regulations, the fact remains that there are over 500,000 distracted driving-related injuries annually (and around 6,000 deaths), many of which can be attributed to commercial drivers.
If implemented, this ban would go a long way toward keeping the roadways of America safer by keeping commercial drivers focused on the safe operation of their oversized vehicles. Until such time when truckers are forced to stop using cellphones behind the wheel, though, accidents will continue to occur. If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, consult a skilled personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options you may have for recovery.
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