States should forbid the use of mobile phones and other portable electronic devices while driving unless it is an emergency, says the National Transportation Board.
This advice for State officials forbidding the use of both hands-free and handheld phones is a response a fatal highway pileup in Missouri on August 5, 2010. After a thorough investigation, the board found out that the initial collision in the accident near Gray Summit, Mo., was caused by a 19-year-old-pickup driver who wasn’t fully paying attention to driving.
Travelling at 85 km/hr, the pickup slammed into the back of a tractor truck that had reduced its speed because of highway construction ahead. The pickup was then sandwiched between the bus that was driving behind him; and another, second bus slammed into the back of the first bus.
The 19-year-old pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the buses were killed. Thirty-eight others were injured.
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The two buses, carrying around 50 students from Gray Summit, Mo., were bound for Six Flags St. Lois amusement park.
Although it is unknown whether the pickup driver was actually using his mobile phone at the moment of the accident, the investigation found out that the teenager sent or received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes leading up to the crash.
At a meeting to determine the cause of the accident and make safety recommendations, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said that the accident is a “big red flag for all drivers,” and it was clear that the mobile phone of the pickup driver clearly distracted the driver manually, cognitively and visually.
The board recommends that drivers have to be forbidden to use any type of electronic device while at the wheel. Although the NTSB doesn’t have the authority to dictate any laws, its recommendations would be seriously considered by federal regulators and congressional and state lawmakers.
At the moment, Missouri already forbids the use of mobile phones for drivers below 21 years old but wasn’t enforcing it seriously enough said Rober Sumwalt, one of the board members.
“Without strict enforcement, the laws don’t mean a whole lot,” he concluded.
Over the years, the board has investigated several other accidents where the use of portable electronic devices was the cause of the incident: a commuter rail accident caused by the train engineering who was texting, killing 25; a fatal marine accident in Philadelphia in which a tugboat pilot was talking on his cell phone while simultaneously using a laptop, and a Northwest Airlines flight that overflew 100 miles past its destination because both pilots were busy on their laptops. While these events always happen, be sure to get your cheap car insurance, on top of everything, it can help you save more. To prevent you being involve in any type of vehicular accident, follow the law and avoid texting while driving.