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US Transportation Investigators Recommend Ban on Driver Cell Phone Use

U.S. transportation accident investigators are recommending a ban on the non-emergency use of cell phones and other portable devices while driving in the United States.

The five-member National Transportation Safety Board unanimously agreed to the recommendation Tuesday, following an investigation into a multi-vehicle crash last year that killed two people and injured 38 others.

The NTSB said distraction was the likely initial cause of the August 2010 crash in the central U.S. state of Missouri. It said the driver of a truck had been sending and receiving texts in the minutes before he crashed into a truck that had slowed or stopped in traffic. Two school buses carrying students to an amusement park then crashed, the first one into the truck, the other into the lead school bus.

The driver who had been texting was killed, along with a student in the back of the first school bus.

Washington D.C. and a number of U.S. states do have restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving. The NTSB recommends a ban on the use of non-emergency portable electronic devices, other than those designed to support driving, for all drivers.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says nearly 5,500 people were killed in 2009 in the United States in crashes involving distracted drivers, and some 450,000 people were injured. It says distracted driving includes any activity, texting, eating, talking, reading maps, adjusting music, that diverts a drivers attention. But it says texting is "by far the most alarming distraction," as it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention.