Washington, D.C. – The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle.

The board calls for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the non-emergency use of PEDs, other than those designed to support the driving task, for all drivers.

“According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,” said Deborah Hersman, chairman of the NTSB. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”

The board made the announcement following a meeting regarding a collision on August 5, 2010 on an interstate in Gray Summit, Missouri. A pickup truck ran into the back of a tractor-trailer that had slowed for a construction zone, and the truck in turn was hit from behind by a school bus and then by another school bus that had been following it. Two people died and 38 others were injured. The NTSB’s investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes before the crash, the last received moments before the pickup struck the tractor-trailer.

The Missouri collision is the most recent distraction event the NTSB has investigated. Its first investigation involving distraction occurred in 2002 when a novice driver, distracted by a conversation on her cell phone, veered off the roadway in Maryland, crossed the median, flipped the car and killed five people.

The NTSB has also investigated incidents where a commuter train driver ran a red signal while texting and collided head-on with a freight train, two airline pilots who were out of radio communication with air traffic control for more than an hour and overflew their destination because they were distracted by their personal laptops, and a barge being towed by a tugboat that ran over a boat in the Delaware River, killing two tourists, because the tugboat mate was using a cell phone and laptop computer and failed to maintain a proper lookout.

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