States should prohibit drivers from using cell phones and other portable electronic devices while behind the wheel, except during emergencies, the National Transportation Board said Tuesday. The recommendation was unanimous among the five members of the board, who said it should apply to hands-free and hand-held phones.
"The board made the recommendation in connection with a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year," reports Joan Lowy of The Associated Press. "The board said the initial collision in the accident near Grays Summit, Mo., was caused by the inattention of a 19-year-old pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in 11 minutes immediately before the crash."
The crash involved the pickup, a tractor truck and two school buses. The driver of the pickup and a 15-year-old student on one of the buses were killed. Thirty-eight others were injured.
Though the board cannot impose restrictions on cell phone use, federal and state lawmakers and regulators take their recommendations very seriously.
Accidents involving texting and cell phone calls are becoming increasingly common. It has even become commonplace for investigators to immediately to look at texting records when launching an accident investigation, Lowy reports.
The board previously recommended that commercial truck drivers and bus drivers be prohibited from texting and talking on cell phones. Texting while driving is forbidden in 35 states, including Kentucky. But about 2 in 10 American drivers, and half of drivers between the ages of 21 and 24, said they have texted or sent an email message while driving, a survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found. (Read more)