NTSB Recommends Total Ban on Driver Cell Phone Use

The National Traffic Safety Board has issued a recommendation that all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices be banned in all cases, except to make emergency calls.

The recommendation, unanimously agreed to by the five-member board, applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones and, as such, significantly exceeds any existing state laws restricting texting and cellphone use behind the wheel.

“No call, no text, no update is worth a human life,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairman of the N.T.S.B., an independent federal agency that is responsible for promoting traffic safety and investigating accidents and their

causes. It will be up to the states to decide whether they want to follow the agency’s recommendation.

She said the decision was a hard one because such a ban would be unpopular among some people. But she said its time had come, given what she said were growing distractions in the car and the spread of increasingly powerful mobile devices.

A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that most drivers don’t think it is dangerous when they themselves choose to use their phones, only when others do.  Almost 20% of the drivers surveyed in the study reported texting and/or emailing while they drive, including nearly half of all 21-24 year olds.  An overwhelming majority (77%) of drivers will answer their phone will driving, and 2/3 of those drivers will continue to talk and drive at the same time.

The cost of distracted driving is devastating.  In 2010, 3,092 deaths were attributed to distracted driving, accounting for 1/10th of all traffic fatalities.



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