Following the finding that a phone call contributed to an accident that killed 11, the NTSB is recommending to other agencies and all the states ban the use of cell phones, both hand-held and hands-free, by commercial truck and bus drivers while trucks and buses are in motion – except in emergencies – as the NTSB does not have the power to implement the ban.
The semi accident that helped push the NTSB to recommend the ban occurred in the early morning hours of late March 2010. The accident occurred when a semi crashed through the cable barriers and crossed the Interstate’s median, hitting a van bound for a wedding. The accident killed the truck driver and ten of the 12 passengers of the van.
The post-crash investigation showed that the truck driver had made a call at the time of the accident, a call that lasted one second. The NTSB investigation also showed that in the truck driver made or received four phone calls in the 25 minutes prior to the accident; and, the driver received six phone calls in the first 16 minutes after the crash.
According to NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, semis only account for 10 percent of all the miles driven on Interstates; however, semis account for approximately 20 percent of all fatal cross-median accidents. Cross-median accidents, while rare (only 3 percent of all accidents), result in 32 percent of fatal accidents on Interstates.
The recommended ban on cell phone use is intended to further limit distractions and improve the safety of America’s roadways.