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NTSB CALLS FOR BAN ON USE OF MOBILE PHONES BY COMMERCIAL DRIVERS; CITES NEED FOR IMPROVED MEDIAN BARRIERS IN ACCIDENT THAT KILLED 11 IN KENTUCKY



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NTSB PRESS RELEASE

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National Transportation Safety Board

Washington, DC 20594

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2011

 

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NTSB CALLS FOR BAN ON USE OF MOBILE PHONES BY COMMERCIAL

DRIVERS; CITES NEED FOR IMPROVED MEDIAN BARRIERS IN ACCIDENT

THAT KILLED 11 IN KENTUCKY

 

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WASHINGTON - Citing distraction from the use of a mobile

phone by the driver of an 18-wheel semi truck as the

probable cause of a crash that killed 11 people, the

National Transportation Safety Board recommended banning the

use of mobile phones by commercial drivers except in

emergencies.  

 

“Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent,

exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways,”

said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “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.”

 

On March 26, 2010, at about 5:14 a.m. CDT, near

Munfordville, Kentucky, a truck-tractor semitrailer

combination unit driven by a 45-year-old male departed the

left lane of southbound Interstate 65, crossed a 60-foot-

wide median, struck and overrode a cable barrier system,

entered the northbound travel lanes, and struck a

15-passenger van, driven by a 41-year-old male and occupied

by 11 passengers (eight adults, two small children, and an

infant). The truck driver and 10 of the 12 occupants of the

van were killed.

 

Investigators determined that the driver used his mobile

phone for calls and text messages a total of 69 times while

driving in the 24-hour period prior to the accident. The

driver made four calls in the minutes leading up to the

crash, making the last call at 5:14 a.m. CDT, coinciding

with the time that the truck departed the highway.

 

The Safety Board also determined that the median barrier

system, which had recently been installed following another

cross-median fatal accident on the same section of I-65,

contributed to the severity of the accident because it was

not designed to redirect or contain a vehicle of the

accident truck’s size. Because median crossover accidents

involving large vehicles are so deadly, the NTSB made

recommendations regarding the use of appropriately designed

median barriers on roadways with high volumes of commercial

vehicles.

 

At the meeting today, the NTSB issued 15 new safety

recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration

(FHWA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

(FMCSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

(NHTSA), the American Association of State Highway and

Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Governors Highway

Safety Association (GHSA), all 50 states, and the District

of Columbia. The Safety Board also reiterated two previously

issued recommendations to the FMCSA.

 

A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause,

findings, and a complete list of all the safety

recommendations, is available on the NTSB's website, at

http://go.usa.gov/0wr. The NTSB’s full report will be

available on the website in several weeks.

 

RELATED MATERIAL

Board meeting announcement (9/8/11): http://go.usa.gov/0wi

Investigative update (5/14/10): http://go.usa.gov/0w3

Launch of investigative team to accident site (3/26/10):

http://go.usa.gov/0wO

 

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NTSB Media Contact: Peter Knudson

(202) 314-6100

peter.knudson@xxxxxxxx

 

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