NTSB Advocates Adoption of Cell-Phone Ban in All 50 States

Federal safety officials are calling on states to outlaw any use of cell phones and other electronic devices by drivers, citing a 2010 chain-reaction crash in Missouri that left two people dead and was thought to have been caused by a pickup truck driver who was text messaging from behind the wheel.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this week advised state officials nationwide to “ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers.”

The warning comes after the federal agency’s board met to discuss the results of a study into an Aug. 5, 2010, crash in Gray Summit, Mo.

Board members found that the driver of a 2007 GMC Sierra struck a Volvo truck, starting a series of three collisions involving two school buses carrying high school students to an amusement park.

The board determined that the driver of one of the buses became distracted by a motor coach that was stopped on the highway shoulder and struck the rear of the pickup truck, which then caused the other bus to collide with the Volvo, followed by the second bus striking the first one.

The driver of the pickup and one passenger aboard the first school bus were killed, and 38 people were injured.

An investigation revealed that the pickup driver who started the chain of crashes had been texting frequently while driving and failed to brake soon enough to avoid crashing, according to NTSB.

The NTSB board found that enforcement of state laws restricting texting while driving, along with high-visibility enforcement of those laws, could reduce the number of similar accidents.

Board members also called on the makers of portable electronic devices to develop features to discourage their use by drivers, other than in emergencies.

Safety officials say distracted driving—which can include behaviors such as texting or talking on cell phones, applying makeup or changing the radio station—was involved in nearly 5,500 fatal crashes and 450,000 injuries in 2009.

Officials say that teenagers are more likely than other demographic groups to text behind the wheel and engage in other risky driving behaviors. That propensity has caused insurers to consider teenage motorists a greater gamble than other drivers, forcing many families with teens to spend more for high risk car insurance policies.

The board’s ruling represents a heightened focus on the problem of wireless devices by drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation had already banned texting and cell phone use by commercial drivers nationwide and encouraged states to adopt tough distracted driving laws.

Concern for distraction caused by cell phones is growing beyond texting and talking while driving.

Car insurance provider State Farm reportedly recently that an estimated 43 percent of drivers age 18 to 29 accessed the Internet while driving in 2011. That was up from 29 percent in 2009.


About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

No comments yet.

Comment on this article