NTSB Calls for Ban on Cell Phone Use by Commercial Truck Drivers

September 14, 2011 Updated Sep 14, 2011 at 5:11 PM EDT

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NTSB Calls for Ban on Cell Phone Use by Commercial Truck Drivers

September 14, 2011 Updated Sep 14, 2011 at 5:11 PM EDT

Citing distraction from the use of a mobile phone by the driver of an 18-wheel semi truck as the probable cause of a crash that killed 11 people, the National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday recommended banning the use of mobile phones by commercial drivers except in emergencies.

"Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a news release. "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."

On March 26, 2010, at about 5:14 a.m. CDT, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a truck-tractor semitrailer combination unit driven by a 45-year-old male departed the left lane of southbound Interstate 65, crossed a 60-foot-wide median, struck and overrode a cable barrier system, entered the northbound travel lanes, and struck a 15-passenger van, driven by a 41-year-old male and occupied by 11 passengers (eight adults, two small children, and an infant). The truck driver and 10 of the 12 occupants of the van were killed.

Investigators determined that the driver used his mobile phone for calls and text messages a total of 69 times while driving in the 24-hour period prior to the accident. The driver made four calls in the minutes leading up to the crash, making the last call at 5:14 a.m. CDT, coinciding with the time that the truck departed the highway.

Read the entire NTSB news release HERE.