Legal Professional?
Build Your Business

Ban on Commercial Truck Cell Phone Use Gaining Ground

A proposal banning cell phone use, both hands-free and handheld, by commercial truck drivers is gaining support among federal regulators, according to Fleet Owner.  What is driving the increased support is a report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about a March 2010 accident that killed 11 people.

Truck Driver Made Four Calls Within Minutes of Crash

The NTSB's follow-up report found that the tractor-trailer driver found at fault for the accidents spent a large amount of time on the cell phone while driving. He used his cell phone 69 times in the 24 hours before the crash. Worse, he made four calls in the minutes leading up to the accident. The NTSB's report concluded 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."

National Safety Council Backs NTSB Call for Total Ban

The NTSB has urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to place a ban on cell phone use by truck drivers. The FMCSA proposed a ban for both truck drivers and bus drivers in December 2010, but the effort is not moving fast enough for some. The National Safety Council (NSC) has joined the NTSB's call for implementation of the ban. "We called for a national ban on all cell phone use among drivers in 2009, recognizing that research shows no safety benefit from hands-free devices," noted the NSC's president. "The distraction to the brain from cell phone use can cause drivers to miss seeing up to 50% of their driving environment."

Trucking Industry Divided

Meanwhile the trucking industry is quibbling over whether the ban should apply to handheld usage only and whether the ban should apply to all motorists, not just truck drivers. The American Trucking Association believes that hand-held use should be banned for all drivers. It also believes that hands-free cell phone devices should not be subject to a ban. Yet a University of Utah study showed that drivers who used hand-held OR hands-free cell phone devices exhibited a degree of impairment similar to drunk drivers.