WASHINGTON - The U.S. government on Friday proposed prohibiting commercial truck and bus drivers from using cellphones while behind the wheel.
The Transportation Department rule would affect approximately 4 million drivers, who are already banned by the government from texting while working.
The proposal is the latest move in Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's stepped-up campaign against distracted driving in which he has questioned cellphone use in passenger cars and "hands free" communications technology.
"Every time a commercial truck or bus driver takes his or her eyes off the road to use a cellphone, even for a few seconds, the driver places everyone around them at risk," LaHood said in a statement.
Nearly 5,000 people were killed and another 500,000 were hurt in crashes of all vehicles involving a distracted driver in 2009, government safety figures show.
Inattention was a factor in 9 percent of large truck crashes, which fell overall in 2009 from the previous year. Most truck crashes involve collisions with other vehicles.