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NTSB Recommendation To Ban Trucker Cellphone Use While Driving

The NTSB has recommended that truckers not be allowed to use either handheld or hands-free cellular telephones while driving during commercial operations, except in emergencies.

This recommendation is seen in an accident report of a fatal collision that occurred in Kentucky on March 26, 2010.

As seen in the “Highway Accident Report: Truck-trailer Semitrailer Median Crossover Collision with 15-Passenger Van…“, the use of a cellphone by a trucker is said to have caused a “distracted driver” situation that led to the March 26, 2010 accident in which 11 people died.

As stated in the Report’s Executive Summary:

On Friday, March 26, 2010, about 5:14 a.m. central daylight time, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a 1999 Freightliner truck-tractor in combination with a 1998 Strick Corporation 53-foot-long van semitrailer, owned by the motor carrier Hester, Inc., and being driven by a 45-year-old male, was traveling south on Interstate 65 (I-65) near milepost 61.5. The truck departed the left lane of southbound I-65 at a shallow angle and entered the 60-foot-wide depressed earthen median between the southbound and northbound roadways. The truck traveled across the median and struck and overrode the high-tension, four-cable, alternating-post median barrier adjacent to the left shoulder of northbound I-65. It then crossed the left shoulder and entered the travel lanes of northbound I-65.

At that time, a 2000 Dodge 15-passenger van, driven by a 41-year-old male and occupied by 11 passengers, was traveling northbound in the left lane. As the truck crossed in front of the van, its tractor was struck by the van. The van rotated clockwise and became engaged with the truck’s trailer; the two vehicles continued across both travel lanes and the right shoulder of northbound I-65. As the truck and van traveled across the right shoulder, the van separated from the truck, struck the cut rock wall beyond the shoulder, and rebounded back into the travel lanes, coming to rest in the left lane of northbound I-65, facing south. The truck’s tractor struck the cut rock wall, and the vehicle rolled onto its right side. As the truck came to rest across both northbound lanes, a fire ensued that destroyed the tractor and the sides and roof of the semitrailer.

As a result of the accident and subsequent truck fire, the truck driver, the van driver, and nine van passengers died. Two child passengers in the van, who were using child restraints, sustained minor injuries.

Under “Probable Cause” was this paragraph:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the truck driver’s failure to maintain control of the truck-tractor combination vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cellular telephone. Contributing to the severity of the accident were a median barrier that was not designed to safely contain or redirect the heavy vehicle and the lack of adequate guidance to the states in the form of high-performance median barrier warrants.

One of the recommendations by the NTSB, made To The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as well as to the 50 States and the District of Columbia is:

Prohibit the use of both handheld and hands-free cellular telephones by all commercial driver’s license holders while driving in commercial operations, except in emergencies. (H-11-XX) [This recommendation supersedes Safety Recommendation H-06-27.]

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