Published: Dec 17, 2010 7:12 PM EST
Updated: Dec 17, 2010 4:13 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government is proposing to ban commercial truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones from behind the wheel.

The Transportation Department says the proposal would prevent interstate truck and bus drivers from reaching for, holding or dialing a cell phone while operating their vehicle.

Bus and trucking companies and their drivers could face fines and drivers who rack up multiple offenses could lose their licenses.

Nearly 5,500 people were killed and half a million were injured in 2009 in crashes involving a distracted driver.

The government estimates 4 million commercial drivers would be affected by the proposal. Already this year the government banned text messaging while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-12-17-10 1303EST