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Truckers Defend Use of Hands-Free Technology

Several weeks ago an editorial in The Baltimore Sun suggested that commercial vehicle operators may be incapable of safely using “hands-free” technology while driving. In search of evidence to support its position, The Sun pointed to the case of John Alban Jr., whose rig collided with a locomotive while he was using hands-free to talk on his cell phone.

That incident prompted the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to recommend that truck drivers no longer be permitted to use hands-free devices to operate a cell phone while driving their commercial vehicles.

trucker_bluetoothOn October 24, 2014, The Sun offered a “second” to that motion, arguing that “accidents involving tractor-trailers are far more likely to be deadly than those involving other types of vehicles” as justification for banning hands-free usage by truckers.

Now, truck drivers have responded to The Sun‘s editorial in a letter to the Baltimore newspaper. In their defence, two truckers — Louis Campion of Baltimore and Bill Graves of Arlington, Virginia — point to a 2010 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute which found that truck drivers are far less likely to be involved in a traffic accident when they use hands-free technology to communicate.

Campion and Graves — who are executive members of the Maryland Motor Truck Association and American Trucking Associations — say “there’s no strong data or science to support” a ban on the use of hands-free devices by commercial vehicle operators.

“Until data exists that clearly demonstrates that use of a hands-free device increases the risk of a crash we will continue to support only a hand-held phone ban for all motorists,” Campion and Graves noted.

The drivers insist that truckers remain determined to help make the highway a safer place — but emphasize that they won’t support a ban on hands-free devices until legitimate studies show such an action is necessary.

“Trucking is a safety-first industry,” the truckers noted. “Our respective organizations will continue to advocate for public policies that make our highways safer for all motorists, not just truckers.”