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National Transportation Safety Board Recommends Full Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving

Following an investigation into the cause of a 2010 accident involving a tractor trailer, two school buses and a pickup truck that killed two teenagers in Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended a nationwide ban on all cell phone use while driving.  During their investigation the NTSB found that the driver of the pickup truck, a 19-year-old male, likely caused the accident when he was distracted by a conversation he was having via text message with a friend.  The man slammed into the back of the tractor trailer at 55 mph after the tractor trailer had slowed in a work zone.  A chain reaction occurred when a school bus carrying high school students on a field trip heading to Six Flags St. Louis hit the pickup and was, in turn, hit by its companion bus, also full of students.  The driver of the pickup truck and a 15-year-old student passenger on one of the busses died as a result of the accident.  Several more of the students were injured, some requiring hospitalization, following the accident. 

Using cell phone records as part of the investigation, NTSB found that the pickup truck driver had sent and received a total of 11 text messages in the minutes leading up to the accident.  There is a current law in Missouri banning texting while driving for any driver under the age of twenty-one, a law the pickup driver clearly ignored.  Missouri State Highway Patrol records reveal that only 120 citations have been handed out the past two years as a result of this law. 

Although several states have adopted laws limiting or banning the use of cell phones by drivers, this is the first time a national safety board has recommended a nationwide ban.  Opponents of this recommendation say it would be too hard to enforce and impedes on the rights of drivers.  Proponents of the ban say safety of all people on the road should be the priority.  It is unclear whether or not the federal government will take the NTSB recommendation to heart and try to issue a nationwide ban. 

Regardless if a nationwide ban is enacted, or Missouri alone changes their laws regarding cell phone use while driving, many fellow students of the young woman who lost her life in the accident (some who survived the accident themselves) have already pledged not to use their cell phones while driving. 


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