Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-11-026
Details
Synopsis: On Friday, March 26, 2010, about 5:14 a.m. central daylight time, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a 1999 Freightliner truck-tractor in combination with a 1998 Strick Corporation 53-foot-long van semitrailer, owned by the motor carrier Hester, Inc., and being driven by a 45-year-old male, was traveling south on Interstate 65 (I-65) near milepost 61.5. The truck departed the left lane of southbound I-65 at a shallow angle and entered the 60-foot-wide depressed earthen median between the southbound and northbound roadways. The truck traveled across the median and struck and overrode the high-tension, four-cable, alternating-post median barrier adjacent to the left shoulder of northbound I-65. It then crossed the left shoulder and entered the travel lanes of northbound I-65. At that time, a 2000 Dodge 15-passenger van, driven by a 41-year-old male and occupied by 11 passengers, was traveling northbound in the left lane. As the truck crossed in front of the van, its tractor was struck by the van. The van rotated clockwise and became engaged with the truck’s trailer; the two vehicles continued across both travel lanes and the right shoulder of northbound I-65. As the truck and van traveled across the right shoulder, the van separated from the truck, struck the cut rock wall beyond the shoulder, and rebounded back into the travel lanes, coming to rest in the left lane of northbound I-65, facing south. The truck’s tractor struck the cut rock wall, and the vehicle rolled onto its right side. As the truck came to rest across both northbound lanes, a fire ensued that destroyed the tractor and the sides and roof of the semitrailer. As a result of the accident and subsequent truck fire, the truck driver, the van driver, and nine van passengers died. Two child passengers in the van, who were using child restraints, sustained minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of this accident was the truck driver’s failure to maintain control of the truck-tractor combination vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cellular telephone. Contributing to the severity of the accident were a median barrier that was not designed to safely contain or redirect the heavy vehicle and the lack of adequate guidance to the states in the form of high-performance median barrier warrants. One issue that the NTSB identified during its investigation was the need to provide objective warrants, rather than general guidelines, for the application of median barriers. This issue area has elements that concern the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Prohibit the use of both handheld and hands-free cellular telephones by all commercial driver’s license holders while operating a commercial vehicle, except in emergencies. [This recommendation supersedes Safety Recommendation H-06-27.]
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Munfordville, KY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY10MH011
Accident Reports: Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Median Crossover Collision With 15-Passenger Van
Report #: HAR-11-02
Accident Date: 3/26/2010
Issue Date: 10/4/2011
Date Closed: 5/13/2013
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Distraction,

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 2/13/2014
Response: CC# 201301266- ANPRM Response to Federal Transit Administration: ANPRM - The National Public Transportation Safety Plan, the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan, and the Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program; Transit Asset Management: Although the introduction of the ANPRM states that FTA “intends to focus its initial oversight and enforcement efforts on rail transit systems’ implementation of and compliance with these requirements,” the NTSB would like to provide some additional comments with regard to transit bus safety for FTA’s future planning purposes. As was noted in the ANPRM, the NTSB held an investigative hearing on transit bus safety in March 1998, investigated several transit bus accidents, and issued a Special Investigation Report titled Transit Bus Oversight. The report noted that FTA was unable to identify conditions on buses for the traveling public or resolve any unsafe conditions due to a lack of effective safety oversight and enforcement. In addition, the NTSB questioned the utility of the safety data that was being collected on transit bus safety. Finally, the NTSB was concerned that, at the time, a comprehensive bus safety program was not available to transit agencies outside of APTA’s membership program. Based on the findings of the investigation, the NTSB issued the following safety recommendations to the US Department of Transportation: Develop and implement an oversight program to assess and ensure the safety of transit bus operations that receive Federal funding. (H-98-43) Collect accurate, timely, and sufficient data so that thorough assessments can be made relating to transit bus safety. (H-98-44) Evaluate the collected data, as part of the oversight program, to identify the underlying causes of transit bus accidents that could lead to the identification of safety deficiencies at transit agencies. (H-98-45) Develop, in cooperation with the American Public Transit Association, the Community Transportation Association of America, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, a model comprehensive safety program(s) and provide it to all transit agencies. (H-98-46) In response, the FTA-sponsored outreach and research efforts to develop a model program for transit bus safety and security. Subsequently, the recommendations were closed with an acceptable response status by the NTSB. Moving forward, however, these recommendations must not be forgotten as data collection and evaluation is an integral component of any safety management program. It is vital that FTA continue to assess and monitor the safety of transit bus operations, including the collection of accurate, timely, and sufficient data so that thorough assessments can be made relating to transit bus safety. Likewise, it is essential that a program be maintained whereas transit bus accidents are thoroughly investigated to identify the underlying causes of crashes so that safety improvements can be implemented in a timely manner. While the NTSB is encouraged that FTA has developed a well-received bus safety program, we are concerned that the program remains completely voluntary and that FTA is unable to ensure that all bus transit agencies are positively affected. In 2013, the safety of bus operations was highlighted as a safety issue area of concern as part of the NTSB’s Most Wanted List. Over the years, the NTSB has made numerous recommendations to the motorcoach and school bus associations, manufacturers, and regulatory agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which the NTSB believes should be considered when establishing a robust oversight program for bus transit operations. These recommendations address safety concerns such as driver distraction, driver fatigue, medical oversight, fire safety, event data recorders, and vehicle safety equipment. FTA should refer to the NTSB safety recommendations database for additional information. The following are examples of some of the NTSB recommendations which should be considered. Driver Distraction • To FMCSA: Prohibit the use of both handheld and hands-free cellular telephones by all commercial driver’s license holders while operating a commercial vehicle, except in emergencies. (H-11-26) • To Motorcoach Industry, Public Bus, and School Bus Associations and Unions: Develop formal policies prohibiting cellular telephone use by commercial driver’s license holders with a passenger-carrying or school bus endorsement, while driving under the authority of that endorsement, except in emergencies. (H-06-29)

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 5/13/2013
Response: We support efforts by the Department of Transportation and the FMCSA to address?through the FMCSA’s 2010 texting ban, the 2012 hand-held cell phone use ban, and the 2012 heightened enforcement initiative to eliminate hand-held PED use by drivers while operating a CMV?the distraction caused by personal electronic device (PED) use by CMV drivers while they are driving. These actions contribute to a common goal of improving driving safety; however, they do not fully satisfy the intent of this recommendation. The findings from our investigations of the 2004 Alexandria, Virginia, motorcoach accident involving the driver’s use of a hands-free cell phone and the Munfordville accident are consistent with research showing that drivers conversing on a cell phone—whether handheld or hands-free—are cognitively distracted from the driving task and pose an increased risk for accidents on the highway. Because the FMCSA has not prohibited the use of a hands-free cell phone by all commercial drivers operating a CMV, Safety Recommendation H-11-26 is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 2/25/2013
Response: -From Anne S. Ferro, Administrator: As our initial response stated, on December 2,2011, FMC SA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a final joint rule specifically prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles. Drivers who violate the restriction will face Federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a CMV for multiple offenses. Additionally, States will suspend a driver's commercial driver's license after two or more convictions for violating State traffic laws concerning the use of mobile telephones. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held mobile phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000. The final rule became effective on January 3, 2012. The rule specifically prohibits the following actions: • Holding a mobile telephone (including "push-to-talk" phones) to conduct a voice communication. • Dialing a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button. • Reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt. The following actions are also prohibited, further strengthening our September 2010 ban on text messaging while operating a CMV: • Manually entering alphanumeric text information into an electronic device. • Reading text from an electronic device. • Composing emails or short instant messages. • Entering a command or "URL" address to access the World Wide Web. Approximately four million commercial drivers were affected by this final rule. The Agency's research has shown that using a hand-held mobile phone while driving requires a commercial driver to take several risky steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including reaching for the phone and dialing. Commercial drivers reaching for an object, such as a mobile phone, are three times more likely to be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event. Dialing a hand-held mobile phone makes it six times more likely that commercial drivers will be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event. The FMCSA believes that this final rule will save lives and prevent injuries by helping commercial drivers stay focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel. In February 2012, FMCSA updated the safety "snapshot" it uses for its Safety Measurement System (SMS) Unsafe Driving, Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category to include violations of the Agency's new mobile phone regulations. As a result, violations of the regulations have both financial and SMS implications. Mobile phone and texting violations are weighted at the highest level (10) and include the following: • Failure to comply with 49 CFR 392.80 - Texting while operating a CMV-Placardable Hazardous Material (HM). • Failure to comply with 49 CFR 392.82 - Using mobile phone while operating a CMV-HM. • Driving a CMV while texting. • Using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV. • Allowing or requiring a driver to use a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV. While the FMC SA acknowledges the NTSB's concerns about the use of hands-free mobile telephones, the Agency does not believe there is sufficient research, crash data, or information to support a rulemaking to prohibit the use of hands-free mobile telephones. The use of hands-free mobile phones may present an increased risk of cognitive distraction, but the Agency is unable to demonstrate that a rulemaking to prohibit drivers from engaging in this activity would provide discernible safety benefits at this time. Therefore, the Agency does not currently have plans to pursue a rulemaking to prohibit hands-free use of mobile telephones. To further address the distracted driving problem, it should be noted that inattentiveness while talking and texting on mobile phones is already punishable under State distracted-driving laws. Inattentiveness includes, along with other activities, conversations with other vehicle passengers, tuning the radio, eating, or talking on a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone. Currently, 39 States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam ban texting while driving. In addition, 10 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held mobile phones while driving. Building on the national momentum that Secretary LaHood and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have spearheaded for the last 3 years on this issue, on June 7, 2012, we released our new "Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving" that offers a comprehensive strategy to address the growing and dangerous practice of using hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel. The plan outlines concrete steps stakeholders around the country-from lawmakers and safety organizations to families and younger drivers-can take to reduce the risk posed by distracted driving. While unveiling the plan, Secretary LaHood also announced $2.4 million in Federal support for California and Delaware that will expand the Department's "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other" pilot enforcement campaign to reduce distracted driving. Recognizing the extent and complexity of the problem, the plan: • Encourages the remaining 11 states without distracted driving laws to enact and enforce this critical legislation; • Challenges the auto industry to adopt new and future guidelines for technology to reduce the potential for distraction from devices built or brought into vehicles; • Partners with driver education professionals to incorporate new curriculum materials to educate novice drivers on driver distraction and its consequences; and • Provides all stakeholders with actions they can take that go beyond personal responsibility to help end distracted driving nationwide. Additionally, FMC SA and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg have an ongoing research project on Eye Glance Analysis and Cognitive Distraction. The objective of this project is to better understand the relationship of cognitive and visual distraction during mobile phone conversations or interactions while the driver is experiencing real-world driving conditions and pressures. Data have been collected and analysis is currently underway to better understand the safety risks associated with cognitive distraction and the safety risks of short eye glances as compared to longer times eyes are off the forward roadway. The contract for this project ends March 2013 and the results will be used by the Agency to aid in its continual efforts to produce safer drivers amongst those operating commercial vehicles on our roadways. Based on the information provided, FMCSA believes that it has fully addressed this safety recommendation and respectfully requests that NTSB reclassify safety recommendation H-II-26, "Closed-Acceptable." The FMCSA, and all of DOT, recognize the severity of distracted driving and will continue to raise awareness about this high-risk behavior. We share your commitment to transportation safety and are continuing to develop and enforce regulations in order to reduce the incidence of crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving CMVs.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 7/12/2012
Response: This letter does not address H-11-26.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 4/24/2012
Response: Notation 8403: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notice of proposed federal guidelines, "Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines for In-Vehicle Electronic Devices" (proposed guidelines), which was published at 77 Federal Register 11200 (February 24, 2012). The nonbinding, voluntary guidelines represent one component of NHTSA's Driver Distraction Program, and are a useful step toward addressing the problem of driver distraction. Specifically, NHTSA is proposing a long-term, phased approach, through the issuance of guidelines to address the distraction potential of in-vehicle and portable electronic devices (PED). This initial proposal only addresses guidelines for the first of three planned phases and concerns the visual-manual interface of devices installed in vehicles as original equipment. The second phase will include PEDs and aftermarket devices, and the third phase will expand the guidelines to include auditory-vocal interfaces. The NTSB supports NHTSA's efforts to promote attentive driving but is concerned about the rapid migration of potentially distracting navigation, communications, and information and entertainment systems into vehicles. Issuing guidelines is one important step of many necessary to ensure appropriate safety oversight of the design and use of in-vehicle systems, aftermarket devices, and PEDs-which can distract drivers from the critical task of safely operating a motor vehicle. The following are suggestions for NHTSA to maximize the effectiveness of these guidelines. They discuss NHTSA's underemphasis of the cognitive component of operating in-vehicle information systems, the need to record data about in-vehicle communication system use in the event of crashes, the importance of moving quickly toward requiring collision avoidance technologies on all vehicles, and the need to evaluate in-vehicle technologies in large commercial vehicles. Background On March 27, 2012, the NTSB hosted a forum on Attentive Driving: Countermeasures for Distraction that examined countermeasures to mitigate distracted driving behaviors. Forum panelists discussed the findings of distracted driver research, distracted driving laws and enforcement, changing attitudes and behaviors through education and outreach, and technology and design countermeasures. The forum was the culmination of a decade of accident investigations involving distractions in all modes of transportation. The following paragraphs summarize NTSB highway investigations that have resulted in recommendations to reduce driver-distraction-related accidents and fatalities. On August 5, 2010, a highway accident occurred in Gray Summit, Missouri, I in which a pickup truck, whose driver was engaged in texting, rear-ended the back of a tractor and set off a series of collisions that killed two people. On December 13, 2011, as a result of its investigation of the accident, the NTSB called on the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of PEDs while driving (other than those devices designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urged the use of targeted education and enforcement campaigns to support these bans. Also in 2010, near Munfordville, Kentucky,2 a truck-tractor in combination with a 53-foot-Iong trailer left its lane, crossed the median, and collided with a IS-passenger van, resulting in 11 fatalities. The truck driver failed to maintain control of his vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cell phone. As a result of this and previous investigations, the NTSB issued a recommendation that all holders of commercial driver's licenses (CDL) be prohibited from using both hand-held and hands-free cell phones while operating a commercial vehicle, except in emergencies. In 2004, an experienced motorcoach driver failed to move to the center lane and struck the underside of an arched stone bridge on the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria, Virginia. Eleven of the 27 high school students on the bus were injured. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the bus driver's failure to notice and respond to posted low-clearance warning signs and to the bridge itself due to cognitive distraction resulting from a hands-free cell phone conversation while driving. The NTSB issued a recommendation that the 50 states and the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by commercial drivers with school bus or passenger endorsements, except in emergencies. In 2002, a novice driver, distracted by a cell phone conversation, crossed the highway median near Largo, Maryland, flipped over, and landed on a minivan, killing five persons. As a result of this investigation, the NTSB issued a recommendation that the 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit novice drivers from using interactive wireless communication devices while driving. Across all modes of transportation, the NTSB has issued 18 recommendations calling for the prohibition of PED use by aviators, railroaders, mariners, young drivers, and bus and truck drivers. Although the NTSB has not made any specific recommendations on driver distraction related to in-vehicle navigation, communications, or information and entertainment systems, the emergence of new in-vehicle technologies not related to the driving task is of significant concern and should be closely monitored to detect potential adverse effects upon driving performance. Maximizing the Effectiveness of Voluntary Guidelines NHTSA provides a detailed explanation of why it is proposing voluntary guidelines rather than mandatory Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The NTSB appreciates that the rapid pace of technology evolution cam10t be fully addressed with a static rule. One advantage of guidelines over safety standards is that they present the opportunity to set performance criteria above a minimum acceptable level and do so more quickly than standards would, given the time required for rulemaking. The proposed guidelines are somewhat stronger than current industry guidelines, but NHTSA should set the safety bar even higher. The NTSB urges NHTSA to go beyond its stated expectation of "interfaces that do not exceed a reasonable level of complexity for visual-manual secondary tasks" and strive for more than "discouraging the introduction of egregiously distracting non-driving tasks performed using integrated devices." Instead, NHTSA should be promoting integrated devices that provide a safety benefit, or that at least do not increase the risk in any measureable way. In the absence of a regulatory requirement for in-vehicle information system design, consumers need a method to determine whether a vehicle has a safe design, and manufacturers need incentives to demonstrate that they are meeting or exceeding the guidelines. One such mechanism would be to create a safety marketplace in which automakers compete to provide safer vehicles that meet or exceed the proposed guidelines, as NHTSA has been doing for more than three decades with its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) five-star safety rating system. Beginning with model year 2011, NHTSA has provided more information about vehicles, indicating whether rated vehicles are equipped with electronic stability control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning systems. As soon as the proposed Driver Distraction Guidelines are adopted, NHTSA should immediately add to its NCAP information a notice of whether a new car complies with the guidelines and also note those vehicles that do not comply. As NHTSA develops a better understanding of driver distraction and the means to evaluate the effects of in-vehicle systems on driving safety, it should consider developing a more refined rating system akin to NCAP's crashworthiness rating system that considers in-vehicle information systems. Furthermore, NHTSA's experience with evaluating in-vehicle information systems for the purpose of ratings will improve its ability to determine the effectiveness and sufficiency of the guidelines. Phased Approach to Driver Distraction Guidelines NHTSA intends to release the guidelines in three phases. The first phase will explore the visual-manual interfaces of devices installed in vehicles. The second phase will include portable and aftermarket devices, and the third phase will include auditory-vocal interfaces. Although it is understood that NHTSA intends to develop guidelines for aftermarket and PED interfaces immediately following completion of the first phase, it is essential to minimize the delay between phases to avoid (1) migration to systems that are not designed for the driving environment and (2) reliance on voice-based in-vehicle systems with flawed designs that may increase the cognitive distraction of drivers. Specifically, the NTSB is concerned that drivers may increase their use of PEDs due to the restrictions being placed on in-vehicle systems in phase one. Although general usability is a strong consideration in the design of some PEDs, the safety of their use as a secondary task to driving is not a factor in their design. Additionally, automotive and device manufacturers are adding greater connectivity for drivers, and in-vehicle information systems increasingly rely on voice activation. A release of guidelines in 2014 will not address nl0del year 2015 vehicles, further exacerbating the problem that first-generation auditory-vocal interfaces will be in widespread use in on-road vehicles without the benefit of design guidelines. Given the current deployment of in-vehicle computing with voice commands and synthetic speech, NHTSA needs to expedite the roll out of phases two and three. Underemphasis on Cognitive Distraction The NTSB is concerned that the NHTSA Driver Distraction Program is based on the assumption that the primary risk associated with in-vehicle PED use by drivers is visual-manual interaction. It is essential to understand the cognitive demands associated with secondary tasks, particularly auditory-vocal communication tasks, in the context of in-vehicle information and communication devices. As evidenced by the work of panelists attending the recent NTSB forum on countermeasures to distraction, numerous studies have shown that driver distraction occurs during both handheld and hands-free cell phone conversations. 8 NHTSA acknowledges that there is a large amount of research on the topic of driver distraction, yet the guidelines appear to focus on naturalistic driving studies. Particularly, this notice refers to naturalistic driving research that reports that engaging in hands-free phone conversations while driving is safe and provides a protective effect. This finding, from the commercial vehicle naturalistic study, is but one piece of an overall body of research and should be considered within the context of its limitations. Although naturalistic studies provide extremely strong evidence for distraction involving driver behaviors such as visual or manual activities, naturalistic studies, given their dependence on video data, cannot fully assess the cognitive demands associated with hands-free secondary tasks. The measurement of cognitive distraction that does not result in drivers taking their eyes off the road is essential. Both driver performance and brain activity should be assessed to better understand cognitive load. The NTSB findings from its investigation of the 2004 Alexandria, Virginia, motorcoach accident involving the driver's use of a hands-free cell phone are consistent with research showing that drivers conversing on a cell phone-whether handheld or hands-free-are cognitively distracted from the driving task. Need for Improved Event Data The NTSB agrees with NHTSA that efforts are needed to improve the validity and reliability of distracted driving data and believes that such data are necessary both to track the magnitude of distracted driving as a risk factor in accidents and to assess the efficacy of countermeasures. In its notice, NHTSA explains that identifying specific distracting activities and behaviors has presented challenges, partly because police reports may list "other distraction" or "distraction unknown" rather than identifying a specific distraction source, and partly because police may not have enough information to recognize the contribution of distraction to an accident. The NTSB supports NHTSA's ongoing modifications to the Model Minimal Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC), which may better capture and classify crashes related to distraction. The proposed 4th edition of the MMUCC currently does not have a specific code to distinguish in-vehicle electronics from PEDs. As integrated devices for navigation, communication, and information and entertainment continue to proliferate in the vehicle fleet, it is critical for NHTSA and others, such as the NTSB and law enforcement, to be able to determine whether drivers were using such systems immediately before or during a crash. Consequently, NHTSA should require manufacturers to include a recording capability in their in-vehicle and integrated systems, such as exists in some vehicles already on the market, to facilitate accident investigation and safety research. NHTSA recognized the value of recording vehicle data in its 2006 rulemaking on vehicle event data recorders (EDR) when it said, "EDR data can provide information to enhance our understanding of crash events and safety system performance, thereby potentially contributing to safer vehicle designs and more effective safety regulations. Crash Avoidance Technologies The proposed guidelines also cite the April 2010 "Overview of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Driver Distraction Program," which summarized steps that NHTSA intends to take "to help eliminate crashes attributable to driver distraction." One of the four initiatives discussed in the program involves keeping drivers safe through the introduction of crash warning or crash avoidance technologies. The NTSB strongly agrees that such systems can prevent or mitigate accidents; and, for more than a decade, we have made recommendations advocating technological solutions to reduce or mitigate collisions for both passenger and commercial vehicles. A large body of evidence now shows that collision warning, lane departure warning, and automatic braking systems are effective, based on research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, automobile manufacturers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and other organizations. These systems address driver inattentiveness from all potential sources of distraction, including PEDs. Scope of Guidelines According to the notice, because NHTSA's research focus to date has been on light vehicles, the proposed guidelines are limited to passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, and trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of not more than 10,000 pounds. However, considering the significance of large commercial vehicles in overall crash and fatality rates, and given the increasing availability and use of electronic logs, global positioning system, and other potentially distracting systems in these vehicles, the NTSB encourages NHTSA, with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to monitor the introduction of in-vehicle technology and aftermarket technology into medium trucks, heavy trucks, and buses, including motorcoaches, and to conduct research as appropriate. Conclusion The NTSB is pleased that NHTSA is moving forward with providing visual-manual guidance to manufacturers, but we view this phased approach as a limited effort, given the varied nature of driver distraction and new car market indications of future in-vehicle information system designs. The NTSB has concerns about the voluntary nature of the guidelines and believes that NHTSA's Distracted Driver Program underemphasizes the role of cognitive distraction. The NTSB also has made safety recommendations concerning crash avoidance technology. We are encouraged to see that NHTSA has included standards for these systems in the NCAP program that, in tum, provide an incentive for vehicle manufacturers to incorporate these technologies in new vehicles. We continue to believe that much could be gained by acquiring data on the use of in-vehicle systems prior to accidents, and we are interested in learning more about NHTSA's plans for evaluating the effects of in-vehicle, aftermarket, and portable systems in all vehicles. Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the proposed guidelines.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 3/28/2012
Response: -From Anne S. Ferro, Administrator: On December 2, 2011, FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a final joint rule, specifically prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicles. Drivers who violate the restriction will face Federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a CMV for multiple offenses. Additionally, states will suspend a driver's commercial driver's license (COL) after two or more serious traffic violations. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000. Approximately four million commercial drivers will be affected by this final rule. The Agency's research has shown that using a hand-held cell phone while driving requires a commercial driver to take several risky steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including reaching for the phone and dialing. Commercial drivers reaching for an object, such as a cell phone, are three times more likely to be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event. Dialing a hand-held cell phone makes it six times more likely that commercial drivers will be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event. The FMCSA believes that this final rule will save lives and prevent injuries by helping commercial drivers stay focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel. While the FMCSA acknowledges the NTSB's concerns about the use of hands-free mobile telephones, the Agency does not believe there is sufficient research, crash data or information to support a rulemaking to prohibit the use of hands-free mobile telephones. The use of hands-free mobile phones may present an increased risk of cognitive distraction but the Agency is unable to demonstrate that a rulemaking to prohibit drivers from engaging in this activity would provide discernible safety benefits at this time. Therefore, the Agency does not currently have plans to pursue a rulemaking to prohibit hands-free use of mobile telephones. Based on the reasons cited above in safety recommendation H-11-26, FMCSA respectfully requests that NTSB classify the safety recommendation "Closed-Acceptable Action."