Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have indicated that text messaging by the pilot in a fatal 2011 medical helicopter crash contributed to the accident. Texting and flying was not the only contributing factor to the aviation incident listed by the NTSB, but it did mark the first time that text messaging was cited as a contributing factor in a commercial aviation accident. The crash claimed the lives of four people, including the pilot, a nurse, a paramedic and the patient the helicopter had picked up
Texting is a growing concern to the NTSB. Significant work has been done to address motor vehicle accidents caused by texting. The majority of U.S. states have passed laws banning texting and driving. Texting presents a growing danger in the world of transportation safety. The Chairman of the NTSB stated that the investigation into this particular helicopter crash “highlighted what is a growing concern across transportation – distraction and the myth of multi-tasking.”
The myth of multi-tasking may explain why a recent study conducted by AT&T pointed to an increase in the percentage of adults who text while driving, despite knowing that the practice is unsafe. Texting and operating a car, truck, plane, helicopter, bus or any other mode of transportation is unsafe. A vehicle traveling at 55 miles-per-hour covers roughly the length of a football field during the time a person takes to deal with a text message.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Texting contributed to fatal crash of medical helicopter, NTSB says,” by Michael Muskal, 9 April 2013