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Feds Weigh Cell Phone Ban For Bus, Truck Drivers

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A highway safety organization is calling for restrictions on cell phones and texting by drivers of commercial vehicles. Members of Advocates for Highway Safety are asking the federal agency that regulates trucks and buses to give urgent attention to the matter. Next week at Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's summit, he's expected to announce what the department calls "concrete actions" on issue.


And you can add one more item, if you like, to the agenda facing the current president of the United States, regulating the use of cell phones and texting by drivers of commercial vehicles. A highway safety organization is calling for restrictions and the Obama administration appears to hold a similar view.

NPR's Adam Hochberg reports.

ADAM HOCHBERG: The statement by a group called Advocates for Highway Safety comes as concern grows about what's known as distracted driving. In the past few months several states have banned texting behind the wheel. The secretary of transportation has announced plans for a major summit on the issue. And a new study concluded that using wireless devices greatly increases the risk of accidents.

Alisa Skis'(ph) 13-year-old daughter Marge(ph) was in one of those accidents. She was killed last year when her school bus was rear-ended by a trucker who admitted he was distracted by a phone call.

ALISA SKIS: The truck driver said he never even saw the bus. His semi slammed into the back of the bus, which then caught on fire. Our precious and beautiful Marge was trapped in the school bus and that is where she died.

HOCHBERG: Skis spoke yesterday during a conference call by the Advocacy Group. The organization, which is closely tied to the insurance industry, wants Federal regulators to restrict the use of electronic devices by commercial motorists. Next week, when Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood holds his summit, he plans to announce what the department calls concrete actions on the issue.

And Clayton Boyce of the American Trucking Association says the industry is not opposed to some limits on texting and cell phones.

CLAYTON BOYCE: We recognize that it's a hazard and trucking companies have their individual rules about this. But we also recognize some kind of regulation is needed if these rules don't take care of the problem.

HOCHBERG: While the Federal government can impose cell phone and texting regulations on commercial drivers, it has no direct authority to do so for private motorists. But Congress is considering a measure that would pressure states to pass bans that would apply to everybody.

Adam Hochberg, NPR News.

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