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U.S. Safety Board Urges Nationwide Ban on Drivers' Use of Cellphones
Date:12/14/2011

TUESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- In the aftermath of a deadly crash in Missouri that killed two and injured 38, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is recommending a nationwide ban on drivers' use of cellphones and other personal electronic devices, except in emergencies.

According to media reports, the board was meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to discuss the fatal pileup that occurred last year in Gray Summit, Mo. The NTSB noted that the 19-year-old driver of a pickup truck involved in the crash sent or received 11 text messages within the 11 minutes prior to the pileup, including one just before impact.

The pickup truck collided with the back of a tractor trailer and was rear-ended by a school bus, which in turn was rear-ended by another school bus, the Associated Press reported. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old on one of the buses were killed.

In her opening statement on Tuesday, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman acknowledged that, "We will never know whether the driver was typing, reaching for the phone, or reading a text when his pickup ran into the truck in front of him without warning," the Washington Post reported. "But, we do know he had been distracted -- cognitively, manually, and visually -- while driving. Driving was not his only priority."

According to the AP, NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said that Missouri had a law in place at the time banning texting by drivers under the age of 21, but he believes the state was not aggressive enough in enforcing the statute.

The perils of distracted driving may extend across the United States, however.

In a recent Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll of more than 2,800 U.S. adults, released in late November, 59 percent said that while driving they had talked on a non-hands-free cellphone, and 37 percent said they had texted while driving. For others, the practice is more habitual: 18 percent of survey re
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