Cell Phone Ban Urged for Commercial Drivers

“After a Kentucky truck crash that killed 11 people, top federal safety investigators vastly broadened their recommendations on cellphones….and said all commercial drivers should be forbidden to use them, whether hand-held or not, except in emergencies. The Department of Transportation is already considering a rule to ban the nation’s 3.7 million commercial drivers from talking on cellphones; last year it banned them from texting. ‘It’s just too dangerous,’ said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.” “Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways,” according to the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah A.P. Hersman. “It can be especially lethal when the distracted driver is at the wheel of a vehicle that weighs 40 tons (80,000 pounds) and travels at highway speeds.” Research on the safety impact of hand-held phones is contradictory; some studies say their use does not increase risk, but others find that drivers cannot fully focus on both the road and their conversations, even if they do not need their hands to talk. “The Kentucky crash happened at about 5:00 a.m. on March 26, 2010, when a truck driver traveling on Interstate 65 crossed a 65-foot median, went through a cable barrier and hit a passenger van, killing himself and 10 of the 12 people in the van. Investigators determined that in the 24 hours leading up to the crash, the truck driver had used his cellphone 69 times while driving, including 4 calls in the minutes before the crash, the last of them at the time his truck left the highway. New York Times, September 14, 2011.