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NTSB Recommends Cell Phone Ban for Commercial Truckers, Including Missouri

Truck drivers should not use cell phones - even hands-free devices - while driving, according to a recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and other government safety organizations.

"Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman in a release posted on NTSB.gov. "It can be especially lethal when the distracted driver is at the wheel of a vehicle that weighs 40 tons and travels at highway speeds."

Thirty-five states, including Missouri, ban texting by commercial truck drivers, but talking is not prohibited. The new recommendation would institute major, and some say, welcome changes in an effort to reduce truck accidents.

"This is really not a truck; this is an 80,000-pound missile," said commercial driver licensing instructor John Fobes on KSPR.com. Fobes, with more than 20 years of accident-free truck driving experience, said that even conversation distracts drivers, who some say, make up to 100 decisions per mile. "I have read a report that stated the only industry that makes more decisions in a day than a truck driver was an air traffic controller," said Fobes.

Said Fobes, a semi-truck traveling 55 to 60 miles per hour takes at least 400 feet to stop - further than the length of a football field - and that happens only after analyzing the situation for a second and a half and hitting the brakes. "Common sense should tell you when you're dealing with people's lives you need to pay a little bit more attention," he said.

Trucking Companies and Drivers Support Restrictions on Cell Phone Use

A Missouri truck-stop survey by a KSPR reporter found general support for a ban on hand-held phones among a dozen truck drivers selected at random. Roughly half told the reporter they never use cell phones while driving and half said they use only hands-free phones.

For Prime, Inc., a Springfield-based trucking company, government-regulated cell phone restrictions would be acceptable. Prime instructs drivers to keep talking to a minimum. "Of course everybody has cell phones but they're using headsets," said Prime Inc.'s Director of Safety Don Lacy.

A trucking accident can be devastating for all parties involved. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a distracted commercial driver, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and options.

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