An emergency roadside worker at the scene of an accident involving two school buses, a tractor-trailer and another passenger vehicle, near Gray Summit, Mo. The National Transportation Board (NTSB) investigators say it was caused by a 19-year-old driver who was texting while driving.
The NTSB said that all states should ban driver use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies. The five-member NTSB board’s recommendation was unanimously agreed, too. The ban they recommend would apply to both hands-free and hand-held phones which means that it would be far more strict than any existing state law restricting cellphone use / texting while driving.
The impetus behind the recommendation was a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year caused by a 19 year-old-pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in the approximately 10 minutes immediately prior to the crash. This accident should be a “big red flag for all drivers,” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said. Investigators are seeing texting, cellphone calls and other distracting behavior by operators in accidents across all modes of transportation with increasing frequency. It has become routine for investigators to immediately request the preservation of cellphone and texting records when they launch an investigation.
In both New York and New Jersey, laws prohibit handheld cell phone use as well as texting while driving. On July 12, 2011, New York increased the number of points for a cell phone ticket from 2 points to 3 points, and the same for handheld use of a portable electronic device while driving.
“Clearly, states like New York are upping the ante,” says New York traffic violation lawyer Adam Rosenblum. “They realize that this is becoming a serious safety issue and are addressing it by increasing both enforcement and penalties” said Rosenblum.
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