• Dec 13th 2011 at 2:00PM
  • 496
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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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      the fine for texting when Driving is not high enough to stop them from texting when driving
      • 3 Years Ago
      I surely don't think texting from a vehicle should be banned. I do think that the driver texting is an accident waiting to happen and that should be illegal but a passenger texting while in a moving vehicle for me is fine. What was the reason the busses rear ended the pu? Were they texting too?
      • 3 Years Ago
      So... Teen driver was texting. Has minor collision with back of non moving truck. Is not killed from the accident. Bus one completely turns a full size GM truck into a crumpled ball, killing teen driver, after hitting both non moving trucks at 60 mph, THEN bus number two rear ends bus number one doing the same thing, killing a passenger in the back of bus one. Not really seeing how they are going about this in the right direction. Unless both bus drivers were also texting. That bus was cranking to get the rear wheels off the ground like that.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Remember the Oldies song...Keep your mind on your driving... Keep your hands on the wheel... Keep your snooty eyes on the road ahead. While they are at it about texting, Why not ban women from putting on make up in the rear view mirror while driving,Buisnessmen reading the wall st . journal & shaving in the rear view mirror. I've wittnessed people on a lap top while driving.No wonder insurance rates are what they are today!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Death is the only lesson. Idiots who text or talk while driving , when caught, should spend a mandatory year behind bars.
      FSU Seminole's
      • 3 Years Ago
      Texting should be banned while driving, but talking on the hands free e.g. OnStar phone, or speaker phone on cell is no different than talking to the passenger in the vehicle. However, there are some people that cannot drive and hold a phone to talk. I have seen them do stupid things while trying to do it. I saw a guy pull in front of someone through stopped traffic and not look at the lane that is not stopped for example.
      • 3 Years Ago
      this is to funny i cant read it all because im laughing to hard you should die if you text and drive what happened to talking its to bad everyone that textes doesnt die
      • 3 Years Ago
      in my town a mother texting was just in a fatel accdent killing hereself and a son other son in fatel condition sad just befor christmas
      • 3 Years Ago
      Still not as dangerous as smoking...
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why have they waited so long to do anything about this problem ? Who will enforce it ?
      • 3 Years Ago
      i say raise the driving age to 21 and only allow 18 and over kids a license only with proof of employment where a vehicle is needed. a car shouldnt be for enjoyment or for showing off, thats why there are so many accidents now a days
      • 3 Years Ago
      It appears by the photo the school bus driver was following to closely and could be ticketed if not charged with driver inattention. To bad for the innocent student on the bus.
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