Since then, the NTSB has seen the deadliness of distraction across all modes of transportation.
* In 2004, an experienced motorcoach driver, distracted on his hands-free cell phone, failed to move to the center lane and struck an arched stone bridge in Alexandria, Virginia. Eleven of the 27 high school students were injured;
* In the 2008 collision of a commuter train with a freight train in Chatsworth, California, the commuter train engineer, who had a history of using his phone for personal communications on duty, ran a red signal while texting. That train collided with a freight train – killing 25 and injuring dozens;
* In Philadelphia in 2010, a barge being towed by a tugboat ran over an amphibious "duck" boat in the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian tourists. The tugboat mate failed to maintain a proper lookout due to repeated use of a cell-phone and laptop computer;
* In the last two decades, there has been exponential growth in the use of cell-phone and personal electronic devices. Globally, there are 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers or 77 percent of the world population. In the United States, that percentage is even higher - it exceeds 100 percent.
Further, a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study of commercial drivers found that a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet. "The data is clear; the time to act is now. How many more lives will be lost before we, as a society, change our attitudes about the distractions?" Hersman said. A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause, findings, and a complete list of the safety recommendations, is available at: http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2011/gray_summit_mo/index.html. The NTSB's full report will be available on the website in several weeks.