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Cell phone ban may help prevent New Jersey truck accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board recently updated its recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ban cell phone use by truckers. Distracted driving is a large factor in many New Jersey truck accidents and a ban on cell phone use by truckers may help prevent some of the many truck accidents that occur across the state every year.

“Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways,” said Deborah Hersman, the safety-board chairman. “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.”

Hersman compared the cell phone ban to initial efforts to require seat belts or stop indoor smoking. Texting while driving is already banned for commercial truck drivers. Those found violating the ban may face fines as steep as $2,750.

“Texting or talking on the phone while driving can turn deadly in a matter of seconds, particularly when a big rig or a bus is involved,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says. “There is no call or text message that is worth risking lives.”

The latest calls to ban cell phone use by truckers follow a severe truck accident which killed 11 people. A trucker caused the accident because drove into oncoming traffic while dialing a call.

“It’s a lesson for me about how the use of the cellphones have a big impact,” said the father of one of the victims. “They do distract you. I’m guilty of that myself.”

Source: USA Today, “Safety board: Ban cellphone use by truckers,” Bart Jansen, Sept. 14, 2011

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