Trucker Cell Phone Ban Will Keep You Safer

Autos & TrucksInsurance

  • Author Fjori Narazani
  • Published January 26, 2012
  • Word count 372

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended banning all cell phone use while driving for commercial drivers and requiring highways with high commercial traffic have medians that mitigate trucks from crossing the road.

The NTSB recommended not allowing truck and bus drivers to use cell phones, even if hands-free technology is used, except for emergencies.

The agency endorsed the ban during a hearing in Washington after ruling that a truck driver on his phone caused a crash that killed 11 people on a Kentucky interstate in 2010. The board said the ban should include use of hands-free devices.

Investigator David Rayburn said the trucker panicked and hit the brakes but didn’t try to steer his tractor-trailer out of the median. The 38-ton truck drove into the oncoming lanes and smashed head-on into a van carrying a Mennonite family and friends to a wedding in Iowa.

The driver and 10 people in the van were killed in the fiery crash. Two young children in safety seats were the only survivors.

The NTSB was told that truck driver Kenneth Laymon, 45, had been talking and texting dozens of times in the hours leading up to the early morning crash. He made his last call just moments before causing the horrific accident.

The proposed ban would cover commercial driver’s license holders while they operate vehicles such as tractor-trailers, buses or tanker trucks. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2008 that there were about 2.8 million commercial truckers.

The NTSB voted to accept its investigators’ conclusion that Laymon, distracted by his phone, caused the deadly wreck.

Federal authorities said the trucker left Lansing, Mich., at about 4 p.m. on March 25, 2010. The wreck happened roughly 13 hours and 437 miles after he left. Autopsy tests on Laymon came back negative for alcohol or drug use.

The trucker had 69 calls and text messages in the 24 hours before the accident and the last call coincided with the time the truck departed the highway.

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