By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
The National Transportation Safety Board does not have rulemaking powers, but the agency is making recommendations to the FMCSA to ban the use of handheld and hands-free cellphones by commercial drivers while driving.
NTSB officials issued the recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in response to probable cause findings from a high-profile crash that led to 11 deaths in March 2010. Investigators determined that a 45-year-old truck driver was distracted by a cellphone leading up to a crash with a passenger van on Interstate 65 near Munford, KY.
Among the recommendations to various agencies on Tuesday, Sept. 13, is one to FMCSA and the governments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia to: “Prohibit the use of both handheld and hands-free cellular telephones by all commercial driver’s license holders while driving in commercial operations, except in emergencies.”
It is already illegal for a commercial vehicle operator to send text messages or emails while operating a truck, bus or train.
The FMCSA has a number of proposed regulatory actions in the pipeline that address handheld use of phones and other wireless communication devices. So far, hands-free technology has not been regulated by FMCSA.
In its report released Tuesday, NTSB officials issued additional recommendations to various agencies including one to the Federal Highway Administration to install median barriers in areas where crossover crashes are prone to occur.
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