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The highway pileup claimed two lives (Jeff Roberson, AP... The highway pileup claimed two lives (Jeff Roberson, AP).
A federal safety official says a 19-year-old pickup truck driver involved in a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the accident.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said this week it's clear the pickup driver was manually, cognitively and visually distracted.

In connection with the findings, the NTSB recommended on Tuesday that states ban all driver use of cell phones and other hand held electronics, except in times of emergency. The ban should apply to both hand held and hands-free electronics, the Board said.

Investigators said the young driver sent six texts and received five texts just before his pickup crashed into the back of a tractor truck, beginning a chain collision. The pickup was rear-ended by a school bus, which in turn was rammed by a second school bus.

The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the school buses were killed. Thirty-eight other people were injured in the Aug. 5, 2010, accident near Gray Summit, Mo.
Texting while driving has been identified as a scourge on U.S. roads by the Department of Transportation and several states, which have enacted anti-texting laws.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently evaluating proposed policy that could limit the communications technology that is allowed in passenger cars.

In the last few years the Feds have investigated a commuter rail accident that killed 25 people in California in which the train engineer was texting; a fatal marine accident in Philadelphia in which a tugboat pilot was talking on his cellphone and using a laptop; and a Northwest Airlines flight that flew more than 100 miles past its destination because both pilots were working on their laptops.

Read: Survey: Drivers Are Hypocrites When It Comes To Texting And Cellphone Use

"This is trending very hot and it's a growing concern for the NTSB," Hersman told The Associated Press.

The board has previously recommended bans on texting and cell phone use by commercial truck and bus drivers and beginning drivers, but it had previously stopped short of calling for a ban on the use of the devices by adults behind the wheel of passenger cars until Tuesday, when it recommended the ban be extended to all drivers.
Should the feds ban texting in motor vehicles?
Yes 56907 (91.4%)
No 5372 (8.6%)


The problem of texting while driving is getting worse despite a rush by states to ban the practice, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last week. In November, Pennsylvania became the 35th state to forbid texting while driving.

About two out of 10 American drivers overall - and half of drivers between 21 and 24 - say they've thumbed messages or emailed from the driver's seat, according to a survey of more than 6,000 drivers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For all the publicity about anti-texting laws, deaths attributed to distracted driving, the public remains ambivalent about limitations on in-car cell-phone and smart-phone use and harsh punishments when such behavior is tied to vehicular accidents.

Most U.S. motorists recently surveyed acknowledged few situations in which they would not use a cell phone or text while behind the wheel. Still, they support measures to curb both practices, data released early this month by the Department of Transportation (DOT) showed.

The findings were part of a study of driver behavior launched to help regulators understand "why some people continue to make bad decisions" about driving while distracted, officials said.

"What's clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem," said David Strickland, the top U.S. auto safety regulator as head of NHTSA.

The survey results were released as Strickland's agency finalized traffic fatality figures showing 32,855 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2010, about 1,000 fewer than the 33,808 deaths in 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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  • 496 Comments
      LadyGodiva
      • 3 Years Ago
      If anyone gets caught...they should immediately have their license suspended!
      Goobert
      • 3 Years Ago
      They should make the device give the kids a shock in their finger with a sensor in the phone, when it senses you are in a car with the engine running. Why not? Shouldn't be a problem for the eggheads that design these things....
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think a ban should be put on all devices, for all people not just teenagers. I am still young but I never texted while driving, or spoke on the phone. So for someone like me it isn't fair to say all teenagers, because I never have. I also know lots of others who don't. When your texting or talking while driving, that makes you a distracted driver, it doesn't matter how old you are.
      • 3 Years Ago
      How ya gunna ban everything if ya cant stop texin ?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bad drivers cause accidents; a crappy driver who is easily distracted and doesn't pay proper attention to the road will find something to distract themselves with like the radio or a passenger,smoking,etc. Talking to a person in the car is just as distracting as talking to one on the phone. The worst offenders will likely disregard any new laws anyway, in NY it just gives cops another thing to pull drivers over for and levee fines to help balance the state's books, while doing nothing to address distracted driving, or people who won't belong on the road period. Measures like regular re-roadtesting (especially for people with a history of accidents/violations and aging to where vision loss), increased licensing age, mandatory driver education and refresher courses, etc, would be far more effective at making the roads safer than implementing this policy.
      • 3 Years Ago
      No texting I understand. No hands free phone--give me a break. If we are all so incapable, there should be no radio, heat, or AC either.
      wadisplace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Young People don't think. It's too bad it cost this young man's life.
      aevf101
      • 3 Years Ago
      Go ahead pass a no talking/texting law. As with any of this regulatory legislation all it does is silence the squeeking wheel. If there is a law on the books then you don't have a problem and the guv-ment has done it's job. You can't fix stupid people.
      cpminline
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here try this jam the signal when the vehical is moving and record transmission on the black box in the car at time of impact. I know all you Civil Lib. types will scream and I agree, but sometimes you have to protect people from their own stupidity. Can you say don't put your hand in the lawnmower while it's running? Wouldn't be so bad if only the texter got croaked but there is always some poor slob as collateral damage
      • 3 Years Ago
      DUMBASS KID
      sstuczynsk
      • 3 Years Ago
      Big brother again infringing on states rights.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "HANG UP AND DRIVE!" has become my favorite bumper sticker. I've missed more green lights because of people playing or talking on their phones. Driving & cell phones DON't mix. A LAW to BAN this very dangerous & annoying practice is long OVERDUE!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRR!
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