In March of 2010, Kenneth Laymon was driving an 18-wheeler southbound on Interstate 65 near Munford, Kentucky. The truck crossed the median, entering into the northbound lanes of traffic, where it collided with a passenger van. The resulting accident killed 11 people, and led to an extensive investigation to determine why the collision occurred. The recently released report shows that distracted driving remains a serious concern.
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reconstructed the truck accident to learn the factors responsible for the crash. Laymon, the truck driver, had slammed on the brakes, but there was no indication that he had attempted to get the truck out of the median. Further investigation revealed that at the time of the crash, Laymon made a one-second phone call using his cell phone.
Based upon this information, the NTSB recommended that all truck drivers be banned from texting or using a cell phone while driving, which would also include the use of hands-free devices. Currently, there is a law in place that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while behind the wheel, but there is no uniform rule that addresses the use of cell phones.
Currently, each state is able to draft its own rules to deal with this issue, and specific municipalities may have its own rules as well. Illinois has rules against texting while driving, but does not rules that restrict commercial drivers from using cell phones, unless they are in school zones or construction areas.
It could be extremely difficult for such a ban to be in place any time soon. There are still a handful of states that do not have any rules in place that address distracted driving, making it unlikely that those states will pass any laws that restrict commercial drivers from using cell phones. It may be up to individual employers to create new policies that ban the use of phones while driving.