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WASHINGTON--The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all bus drivers be banned from using cell phones while driving except in emergencies.
The NTSB's call Tuesday for both the federal and state governments to prohibit cell phone use by bus drivers stemmed from an investigation of a 2004 bus wreck on the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria, Va. The wreck occurred when a 12-foot-high bus struck a bridge with a clearance of 10 feet, 2 inches, resulting in 11 injuries. Although signs warned of the low clearance in the right lane, the driver said he had not seen them as he talked on a hands-free cell phone.
In a statement announcing the no-cell-phone recommendation, the NTSB said it "concluded that the driver's cognitive distraction resulting from his use of a hands-free cell phone caused the accident. The use of either a hand-held or hands-free cellular telephone while driving can impair the performance of even a commercial driver's license holder, such as the driver in this accident."
The NTSB recommended that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and all states prohibit commercial driver's license holders with a passenger-carrying or school bus endorsement from using cell phones while driving those vehicles, except in emergencies. It also recommended that bus associations develop formal policies for their members containing the same proscriptions.