NTSB Presses for Ban on Use Of Texting Devices While Driving

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The National Transportation Safety Board called Dec. 13 for the first ban on the use of cell phones and other texting devices, including those with hands-free operation, while driving.

The safety recommendation presses the 50 states and the District of Columbia to bar the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support driving) for all drivers.

The NTSB also urges use of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high-visibility enforcement to support the bans and targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.

The recommendation was spurred by findings of an NTSB investigation into an August 2010 crash that involved a pickup slamming into the back of a tractor-trailer. The truck was then hit by a following school bus, which was in turn hit by another school bus. Two people died and 38 were injured.

Investigators discovered that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the tractor-trailer.

The recommendation also comes on the heels of a NHTSA report showing that more than 3,000 people died last year in distraction-related incidents.