The nation risks a surge in deadly accidents unless it makes distracted driving — talking, texting and surfing the Internet while operating cars, boats and trains — as taboo as drunken driving, members of the National Transportation and Safety Board said Tuesday.
The NTSB met in Washington to discuss last year’s fatal crash between a tour boat and a barge that killed two Hungarian students and tossed 35 other people into a busy shipping channel in Philadelphia. The mate piloting the tug pushing the barge was on his cellphone dealing with a family emergency, the agency found.
“Many people continue to think it’s just going to take a moment (to call or text),” NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said. “How do we change that mindset? Not just the NTSB, but all of us?”
The July 7 accident began with an engine problem on an amphibious duck boat, which takes tourists through Philadelphia’s historic district and then floats on the Delaware River. As the passengers waited for a help, a 250-foot barge being pushed by a tugboat struck the duck boat, spilling 37 people into the water.