Safety Recommendation H-11-039
Synopsis: On Thursday morning, August 5, 2010, in Gray Summit, Missouri, traffic slowed in the approach to an active work zone on eastbound Interstate 44 (1-44), as motor vehicles merged from the closed left lane to the right lane. A 2007 Volvo truck-tractor with no trailer was traveling eastbound in the right lane and had slowed or stopped behind traffic. About 10: 11 a.m. central daylight time, a 2007 GMC Sierra extended cab pickup truck merged from the left to the right lane and struck the rear of the Volvo tractor. This collision was the first in a series of three. A convoy of two school buses from St. James High School, St. James, Missouri, was traveling eastbound in the right lane of 1-44, approaching the slowed traffic and the collision ahead. Their destination was the Six Flags St. Louis amusement park in Eureka, Missouri. The lead bus was a 71-passenger school bus, occupied by 23 passengers. Following closely behind the lead bus was a 72-passenger school bus, occupied by 31 passengers. Seconds after the lead bus passed a motorcoach that had pulled over and stopped on the shoulder, it struck the rear of the GMC pickup. This collision-the second in the series-pushed the pickup forward, overturning it onto the back of the Volvo tractor. The front of the lead bus was ramped upward, as it came to rest on top of the GMC pickup and the Volvo tractor. Moments later, the following school bus struck the right rear of the lead bus. As a result of this accident sequence, the driver of the GMC pickup and one passenger seated in the rear of the lead school bus were killed. Atotal of35 passengers from both buses, the 2 bus drivers, and the driver of the Volvo tractor received injuries ranging from minor to serious. Eighteen people were uninjured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of the initial Gray Summit collision was distraction, likely due to a text messaging conversation being conducted by the GMC pickup driver, which resulted in his failure to notice and react to a Volvo tractor that had slowed or stopped in response to a queue that had developed in a work zone. The second collision, between the lead school bus and the GMC pickup, was the result of the bus driver's inattention to the forward roadway due to excessive focus on a motorcoach parked on the shoulder of the road. The final collision was due to the driver of the following school bus not maintaining the recommended minimum distance from the lead school bus in the seconds preceding the accident. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the lack of forward collision warning systems on the two school buses. As a result of this investigation, the NTSB urges the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take action on four previously issued safety recommendations that were intended to prevent accidents and save lives. The two reiterated and reclassified safety recommendations address the placement of video event recorders (VER) in all heavy commercial vehicles and motor carrier review of that information. In addition, the NTSB reiterates two safety recommendations on the medical oversight of interstate commercial drivers.
Recommendation: TO THE 50 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: (1) Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers; (2) use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high visibility enforcement to support these bans; and (3) implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement, and to warn them of the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation H-03-008 and H-11-029)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Gray Summit, MO, USA
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY10MH018
Accident Reports:
Report #: HAR-11-03
Accident Date: 8/5/2010
Issue Date: 2/8/2012
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Commonwealth of Kentucky (Open - Acceptable Response)
Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Open - Acceptable Response)
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Open - Acceptable Response)
Commonwealth of Virginia (Open - Acceptable Response)
District of Columbia (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Alabama (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Alaska (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Arizona (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Arkansas (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of California (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Colorado (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Connecticut (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Delaware (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Florida (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Georgia (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Hawaii (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Idaho (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Illinois (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Indiana (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Iowa (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Kansas (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Louisiana (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Maine (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Maryland (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Michigan (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Minnesota (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Mississippi (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Missouri (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Montana (Open - Unacceptable Response)
State of Nebraska (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Nevada (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of New Hampshire (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of New Jersey (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of New Mexico (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of New York (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of North Carolina (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of North Dakota (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Ohio (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Oklahoma (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Oregon (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Rhode Island (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of South Carolina (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of South Dakota (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Tennessee (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Texas (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Utah (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Vermont (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Washington (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of West Virginia (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Wisconsin (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Wyoming (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: State of Alabama
Date: 2/2/2021
Response: We note that Alabama has enacted a law prohibiting texting by all drivers, but does allow drivers to use hand-held PEDs unless they are subject to your total PED ban (drivers ages 16 and 17 who have held an intermediate license for less than 6 months). We further note that you do not use high visibility enforcement or targeted communication and education campaigns to discourage drivers from using PEDs. We are disappointed that, in 2020, legislation addressing drivers’ nonemergency PED use was considered by the Alabama Legislature, but failed to pass. We encourage you to provide the leadership necessary to ensure that the legislature passes a law banning all PED use, including hands-free use, by all drivers in Alabama. Pending such action, Safety Recommendation H-11-39 is classified OPEN-- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: State of Alabama
Date: 2/3/2017
Response: 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 Portable and Aftermarket Devices” (Phase 2 guidelines), as published at 81 Federal Register 87656, December 5, 2016. The proposed guidelines provide for the use of portable electronic devices while driving by incorporating “pairing” with an existing in-vehicle interface that meets Phase 1 voluntary guidelines. If that is not feasible, NHTSA recommends that portable devices be designed to include a “driver mode” that meets glance time criteria and per se lockouts of distracting activities, as described in the Phase 1 guidelines. NTSB Investigations The April 2012 NTSB response to the Phase 1 guidelines included an overview of our work on distracted driving. Since that time, the NTSB completed the investigation of a bridge collapse near Mount Vernon, Washington, which found that the certified pilot/escort vehicle driver failed to perform required duties and to communicate potential hazards, due in part to distraction caused by cell phone use. Safety Recommendation H-14-13 requested that the states ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices use by pilot/escort vehicle drivers. In the investigation of another collision that occurred in May 2013, the NTSB found that a truck driver failed to ensure that railroad tracks were clear before traversing a highway railroad grade crossing in Rosedale, Maryland, due, in part, to distraction caused by a hands-free cell phone conversation. Safety Recommendation H-14-26 requested that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration modify 49 Code of Federal Regulations 392.82 to prohibit any use of hands-free portable electronic devices by commercial drivers. These recommendations are consistent with our positions from earlier investigations (Safety Recommendations H-11-39 and H-11-47) requesting that the 50 states and the District of Columbia and industry (via CTIA The Wireless Association and the Consumer Electronics Association), respectively, prohibit the use of portable electronic devices while driving.

From: State of Alabama
Date: 12/11/2014
Response: -From Bill Whatley, Public Safety Unit Chief, Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs: Legislation has been passed prohibiting operating a motor vehicle while text messaging. (Alabama Act 2012-291). In addition, communication campaigns have helped educate drivers regarding the enforcement of the law.

From: NTSB
To: State of Alabama
Date: 10/22/2014
Response: H-11-039 is reiterated in the "Distraction" section of the NTSB report Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Collision in Rosedale, MD on May 28, 2013, issued on October 22, 2014. Report number HAR-14-02, Notation 8511A.

From: NTSB
To: State of Alabama
Date: 9/4/2014
Response: In 2013 or 2014, did Alabama consider applicable legislation? Will there be any effort to address this recommendation?