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NTSB calls for cell phone ban for truckers

In the spring of last year, a 45-year-old truck driver was busy making phone calls as he drove his 18-wheeler on an interstate highway far south of La Crosse.

Shortly after five in the morning, his tractor trailer veered out of its lane, crossing a 60-foot-wide median and ramming through a cable barrier before crashing into a passenger van loaded with a dozen people. Eleven people died in the terrible truck accident the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it blames on the trucker's use of his cell phone.

The last call the trucker made before he died in that Kentucky crash was in the moments before his truck left the lane.

The NTSB is now calling for federal agencies, the Wisconsin state legislature and all other state governments to issue bans on the use of handheld or hands-free cell phone by commercial drivers while they're driving. The only exception would be in cases of emergencies.

The chair of the NTSB says distracted driving has become a daily danger on the nation's streets and highways. "It can be especially lethal when the distracted driver is at the wheel of a vehicle that weighs 40 tons and travels at highway speeds," she said.

Anyone who has driven on I-90 or any other interstate or highway frequented by truckers knows how dangerous those 18-wheelers can be. When the driver is distracted, everyone else on the road is at extreme risk.

The NTSB is also calling for the erection of median barriers built to withstand the force of a big rig on those highways with high commercial vehicle use, among its 15 traffic safety recommendations issued earlier this week.

Source: OSHA: "NTSB Cites Trucker's Cell Phone Distraction in 11-Victim Crash": Sept. 13, 2011

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