If your small business involves trucking you need to be aware of a proposed ban on cell phones while driving. In a move that may show just how serious authorities are getting about distracted driving, the National Transportation Safety Board last month recommended barring truck drivers from using any type of cell phone behind the wheel except in emergencies, according to Online Auto Insurance News.
Safety and insurance industry officials say distracted driving causes a high percentage of crashes each year that result in property damage, injury and death. And because driving histories are a key factor in setting premiums, causing a crash because you are distracted could make it hard to find car insurance with no down payment or other types of coverage.
The NTSB recommendation would apply to both hand-held and hands-free phones and would prohibit talking and texting or emailing.
Talking on a handheld while driving is already illegal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and texting is banned for all drivers by 34 states and the nation’s capital, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
School bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones for any purpose in 19 states and D.C. and from texting in three states, III reports.
More than 30,000 people die each year in the United States as a result of vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal agency says that in addition to the pain that causes friends and relatives, those fatalities also cost about $41 billion in medical and work losses.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 20 percent of all crashes in 2009 involved distracted driving, which can include texting, eating, applying makeup or talking to passengers.
NHTSA says almost 5,500 people died in vehicle crashes in which driver distraction played a role, with those victims accounting for 16 percent of all roadway fatalities.
And the numbers have gotten worse in recent years, federal safety officials say. Ten percent of traffic fatalities in 2005 resulted from crashes involving distracted driving. That proportion had risen to 16 percent by 2009.