The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has proposed a federal ban on all usage of cell phones for truckers driving commercial big rig semi trucks as being too dangerous; the ban would apply to both handheld and hands free phones.
On September 13, 2011, the NTSB formally recommended that federal regulations be created that would make it illegal for commercial truck drivers to use mobile phones while on the job, except in the case of emergency. The NTSB’s reason? The agency cites the distraction of driving while talking on the phone, even a handsfree phone, is too high when the driver is operating a heavy commercial truck like a big rig, semi truck, tractor trailer, or 18 wheeler.
“Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways. 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.”
The Big Rig Truck Wreck That Got the Federal Agency’s Attention
In its announcement, the NTSB points to a tragic crash that killed 11 people last year in Kentucky as being a big incentive for the federal agency to take this action. What was this one accident that got the federal government to take notice?
Around a year and a half ago, early in the morning of March 26, 2010, just before sunrise in Munfordville, Kentucky, an experienced truck driver was driving his truck-tractor semitrailer combination unit on Interstate 65, when the big rig veered out of the southbound left lane, jumped the huge highway median (it was 60 feet wide), slammed through a protective cable barrier, and jumped into oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes.
The big rig then crashed into a passenger van filled with 11 people and its driver. The truck driver and 10 of the 12 riding in the van perished in the accident. From the investigation, the NTSB found out that the truck driver had been on the phone. In fact, he had made 4 calls right before the crash and he had made 69 calls and text messages within the previous 24 hours.
His last call? Records show it was made at at 5:14 a.m. CDT, the exact time that the truck departed the highway.
Kenneth J. Allen and Associates Has Been Monitoring What Happened After That Terrible March 2010 Esh Wedding Van Crash
We reported on this horrific crash back in March 2010, when it happened. An entire family was devastated by this crash as the van occupants were part of the large Esh family, on their way in a church van to a family wedding in Iowa. See, On I-65, Semi Truck and Church Van Crash Kills 11, where we gave details about the family and what happened back then. Even the most experienced trial lawyers were shocked and mystified that such a horrendous, horrible, and tragic accident could occur.
Monitoring this tragedy, we’ve also reported on the federal government shutting down the trucking company involved in this horrible accident. Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered Hester, Inc. of Fayetteville, Alabama, to be shut down. See, Feds Close Doors of Trucking Company After Truck Killed 11 in Van on Kentucky Interstate.
This month, we are seeing the federal government continue to take action to make sure that the horrible tragedy that befell the Esh family never happens again on American roadways. Banning phone chatter and texting by truckers driving huge and heavy big rigs is just one more step in the right direction.