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U.S. Considers Banning Cell Phone Use for Truck Drivers

Last week, the Department of Transportation announced a proposed plan that would ban the use of cell phones while driving for commercial truck and bus drivers. Some truck drivers are required to use their cell phones while driving as part of their duties, increasing the likelihood that a trucking accident could occur.

If the prohibition takes effect, approximately four million commercial bus and truck drivers would be affected. Those who work for the government have already been banned from cell phone use while driving.

The proposal comes on the heels of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's vow to curb distracted driving, which has become a major factor in motor vehicle accidents around the country. According to a government safety data, 5,000 people were killed and 50,000 more were hurt in accidents involving distracted driving in 2009.

In the trucking industry, inattention played a role in nine percent of industrial truck accidents. The majority of truck accidents involve crashes with other vehicles. However, truck accidents did decrease slightly from 2008 to 2009.

LaHood has promoted a ban on cell phone use and discredited "hands free" technology as a solution. He takes particular issue with truck drivers using cell phones while driving. In a statement, he said that, even when truck drivers take their eyes off the road for mere seconds, a dangerous situation is created for the truck driver and everyone else on the road.

Some large companies, such as UPS Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have already chosen to ban their drivers from cell phone use while operating trucks. LaHood hopes that other trucking companies will follow suit, creating a safer work environment for their employees and keeping other motorists safe.

Source: "U.S. proposes cell phone ban for truck, bus drivers," 17 December 2010

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