Traffic accidents claim the lives of too many innocent people each year in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States. Oftentimes the fatal accidents involve large commercial vehicles or trucks with drivers who are speeding, too tired to be driving or distracted by a cell phone or other device.
After it was determined that a 2010 truck accident in Kentucky that killed 11 people was caused by a truck driver distracted by his cell phone, the National Safety Transportation Board recommended this week that commercial drivers should be prohibited from using cell phones except for in the case of emergency.
The NSTB said it also made this recommendation in light of the 2010 duck boat accident that claimed the lives of two people on the Delaware River when a distracted tug boat captain steered a 250-foot barge into a tourist Ride the Ducks boat, sinking it.
The Department of Transportation proposed the same ban last December, which would apply to the 3.7 million commercial drivers in the country. Currently, the DOT bans commercial drivers from texting while driving, and some trucking companies have policies prohibiting texting or talking on cell phones without the hands-free option.
The crash in Kentucky occurred when a truck driver traveling on Interstate 65 crossed the median, went through a barrier and struck a passenger van. Ten van passengers perished as well as the truck driver. After investigation, police learned the truck driver had used his cell phone 69 times while driving in the past 24 hours, with one call being made moments before the crash.
Federal safety investigators say besides during emergencies, all commercial drivers should not be allowed to use any type of cellular device, even if they are not hand held. The chairwoman of the NTSB said that using a cell phone while driving can prove deadly when a 40 ton truck traveling at high speeds is involved.
What do you think? Should cell phone use among truck drivers except for in the case of emergencies be banned?
Source: New York Times, “Board Urges Cellphone Ban for All Commercial Drivers,” Matthew L. Wald and Matt Richtel, Sept. 13, 2011.