Federal accident investigators called for a first-ever nationwide ban on using cell phones while driving.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made the recommendation following a Dec. 13 meeting about a 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Mo. The board is asking all 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices for all drivers.
The accident in Missouri involved a pickup truck that ran into the back of a truck-tractor that had slowed at a construction zone. A school bus struck the pickup truck, and a second school bus hit the first bus. Two people died in the Aug. 5, 2010, accident, and 38 others were injured.
The NTSB's investigation revealed the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor.
More than 3,000 people have died in the last year in distraction-related accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving," Deborah A.P. Hersman, NTSB chairperson, said in a press release. "No call, no text, no update is worth a human life."
In the last few years, car insurance companies and safety organizations have stepped up campaigns urging motorists to put away their cell phones while driving.