The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

NTSB Calls for Ban on Use of Mobile Phones by Commercial Drivers

September 20, 2011

WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended banning the use of mobile phones by commercial drivers except in emergencies. This recommendation follows a crash where an 18-wheel semi killed 11 people.

"Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "It can be especially lethal when the distracted driver is at the wheel of a vehicle that weighs 40 tons and travels at highway speeds."

On March 26, 2010, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a truck-tractor semitrailer combination unit departed the left lane of southbound Interstate 65, crossed a 60-foot-wide median and then struck and overrode a cable barrier system, NTSB stated. From there, it entered the northbound travel lanes and struck a 15-passenger van.. The van was driven by a 41-year-old male and occupied by 11 passengers (eight adults, two small children, and an infant). The truck driver and 10 of the 12 occupants of the van were killed.

Investigators determined the driver used his mobile phone for calls and text messages a total of 69 times while driving in the 24-hour period prior to the accident. The driver made four calls in the minutes leading up to the crash, making the last call at 5:14 a.m. CDT, coinciding with the time that the truck departed the highway.

The NTSB said its full report will be available on the website in several weeks.

The Safety Board also determined the median barrier’s design contributed to the accident because it was not designed to redirect or contain a vehicle of the accident truck's size.

At a recent meeting, the NTSB issued 15 new safety recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), all 50 states, and the District of Columbia. The Safety Board also reiterated two previously issued recommendations to the FMCSA.

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