New Ban on Cell Phone Use by Truck and Bus Drivers Proposed by NTSB

On the heels of an investigation into a truck collision in Kentucky that claimed the lives of 10 people and the truck driver, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended new rules completely prohibiting the use of cell phones by commercial drivers while behind the wheel. The prohibition would extend to truck drivers, bus drivers and any other commercial vehicle drivers or operators and would stop make both texting and talking on a cell phone illegal while behind the wheel.

Texting while driving was banned by the US Department of Transportation last year. The truck driver in the Kentucky crash was using a hands-free phone to make calls, which investigators say contributed to his distraction and was one of the reasons the driver crossed the median and drove head-on into oncoming traffic. Investigators also cited driver fatigue and failure of safety cables along the median as contributing to the truck crash.

The Battle Against Distracted Driving

The NTSB’s recommendation would prohibit all drivers with a commercial driver’s license from using either a handheld or hands-free mobile device while behind the wheel, whether to place a call, send a text message or any other purpose. Cell phone use is just one example of distracted driving; anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road ahead creates the possibility of distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), 20 percent of crashes in 2009 was caused, at least in part, by a distracted driver. Nearly 1000 people were killed in distracted-driving crashes directly related to the use of a cell phone behind the wheel. When the distracted driver is behind the wheel of a 40-ton vehicle traveling at speeds in excess of 55 mph, the results of a crash can be devastating. The text message or phone call should wait until the driver is safely stopped and other’s on the road are safe from the dangers caused by cell phone distractions.

Distracted driving, particularly cell phone use, can be just as limiting on the driver as driving while under the influence. The University of Utah reported that cell phone use is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08, the legal limit in most states.

Current Tennessee Laws Against Distracted Driving

Tennessee has already taken a strong stance against distracted driving, banning both hand-held and hands-free cell phone use for bus drivers and novice drivers. Novice drivers are those with a learner’s permit or intermediate license. Texting while driving is prohibited for all drivers.

The NTSB’s recommendation to ban cell phone use for commercial drivers is not law, but its recommendations often are the starting point for new state law. Injuries caused by distracted driving are preventable. If you’re behind the wheel of a semi-truck, a van, a car or other motor vehicle, consider your life, that of your passengers and of others with whom you share the roadway before using your cell phone. Let the text or phone call wait. It may save someone’s life.

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, an experienced personal injury attorney in your area can help you get to fight back against the person who injured you.