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A fatal chain-reaction crash, caused by a driver who sent and received 11 texts in 11 minutes, is driving the NTSB to call for a nationwide cell phone ban for drivers.
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending an across-the-board ban on non-emergency cell phone use while driving. Even going hands-free is far too distracting behind the wheel, the NTSB says.
The NTSB's recommendation follows the agency's investigation of a chain-reaction crash in Missouri, the Associated Press reports. In the crash, a 19-year-old driver sent and received 11 texts in 11 minutes -- the last one just before his pickup slammed into a semi truck. Two school buses were also caught up in the crash.
The texting driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the buses were killed in the crash Aug. 5, 2010. More than three dozen other people were hurt.
The Missouri accident is a "big red flag for all drivers," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. "No call, no text, no update is worth a human life."
Investigators say cell phone use is increasingly linked to traffic accidents, the AP reports. It's now routine to request cell phone and texting records when investigating accidents.
The NTSB hopes new laws will prevent accidents like the one preceded by 11 texts in 11 minutes -- but it's not looking to Congress. Instead, Hersman told The Hill newspaper the NTSB is urging action by states, 35 of which already enforce cell phone bans for drivers.
"States are the ones that can pass laws, they can enforce those laws and in many cases, they are responsible for educational campaigns," Hersman said.
The NTSB recommendation, announced Tuesday, follows a similar agency suggestion earlier this year to enact cell phone bans for all commercial drivers of trucks and buses.