Saturday’s Post 12.18.11 - The National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for a ban of cell phones and other electronic gizmos by drivers. This follows a chain reaction major car accident in Missouri last year. The crash left two people dead and several others injured. Although accident was the last straw, other similar cases over the last number of years were leading up to this decision. Investigations showed that the driver responsible for the crash was text messaging before the devastating car crash took place. Missouri State officials concerned with the accelerating number of these cases are calling on a nationwide ban on non-emergency use of portable communication devices among drivers. This is now including hands free devices. The ban campaign gained momentum after a meeting by members of NTSB to review the appalling incidence that took place in August 2010 in Gray Summit Missouri. The accident involved a large truck, a pickup truck and two school buses headed to an amusement park in St Louis. According to the findings, a 2007 GMC Sierra pickup driven by a teenager, rammed on the back of a slow-moving large box truck, sparking off the accident. The first school bus rear-ended the crashed pickup, and was in turn hit from behind by another school bus. The accident resulted in two fatalities and thirty-eight injuries.
An accident investigation concluded the teenager sent at least eleven text messages right before the crash occurred. This incident shocked federal authorities, who are now pushing for a ban on texting while driving in all states. Previously, NTSB recommended bans on cell phone use among commercial, bus and youthful drivers only. Now however, they wish to include all drivers from engaging in this behavior while driving.
The board believes that stricter enforcement of rules combined with campaigns with regard to distracted driving is likely to bring about change among US drivers. They also urged manufacturers of portable gizmos to develop features, which discourage drivers from being tempted to use them while driving. Distracted driving that entails use of cell phones, smart devices, applying makeup, changing radio stations and similar activities is highly prevalent on US roads. In 2009, such activities contributed to over 5000 fatalities and nearly 1/2 a million injuries. Since teenagers are the number one offenders, insurers consider them high-risk drivers and charge higher premiums for car insurance.
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