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Agency Urges Federal Ban on Texting While Driving

Late in the summer of 2010, a teenage pickup truck driver was text messaging on his mobile phone while he sped down a Missouri highway. His truck rear-ended a parked tractor-trailer, which was then struck by two school buses. The result was a massive, multi-car wreck that left more than 30 people injured and two dead - including the driver/texter, as well as a 15-year-old student who was riding in one of the buses.

The crash, which made national news, gained more press after the driver's phone records were released: he had received 11 texts in as many minutes.

Now the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending a nationwide ban on using a mobile phone while driving. While the agency’s endorsement is important, it is still only a recommendation, as the NTSB  -- which has no power to legislate -- can only persuade lawmakers to pass a bill making it illegal for a driver to operate a mobile phone unless it is an emergency.

Currently, mobile phone bans are enacted by states, and nine states (including the District of Columbia) prohibit their use while behind the wheel. Thirty-five states have banned texting while driving.

Those figures do not include other states that ban novice drivers or bus drivers from using a mobile phone while driving.

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