Federal accident investigators Tuesday called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving.
The recommendation is the most far-reaching yet by the National Transportation Safety Board, which in the past 10 years has increasingly sought to limit the use of portable electronic devices. It has recommended such bans for novice drivers, school bus drivers and commercial truckers.
The new recommendation, if adopted by states, would outlaw non-emergency phone calls and texting by operators of every vehicle on the road.
MSNBC: The government’s transportation safety experts recommended Tuesday to ban all American drivers from using portable electronic devices — including cell phones, even if you use a hands-free device.
The recommendation, which isn’t binding but which is likely to influence the decisions of Congress and state legislatures in writing new safety laws, makes only two exceptions: You could still use GPS navigation devices, and you could use your cell phone in an emergency.
Besides calling for government action, the NTSB also urged consumer electronics manufacturers to figure out a way to “disable the functions of portable electronic devices within reach of the driver when a vehicle is in motion” while at the same time allowing the driver to make a call in an emergency.
The new recommendation would outlaw non-emergency phone calls and texting by operators of every vehicle. Photo CNN
Spokesmen for the Consumer Electronics Association and CTIA—The Wireless Association did not immediately return calls for comment on whether such a device is possible .
“No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life,” Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference in Washington.
Safety advocates have long called for such a ban to reduce the phenomenon of distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says killed 3,092 people in 2010.
The HTSA reported last week that about 20 percent of all drivers and 50 percent of drivers 21 to 24 years old admit to having texted while driving. Overall, more than three-quarters of drivers say they are willing to answer calls on all, most or some trips.
“People continue to make bad decisions about driving distracted — but what’s clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said last week in reporting the numbers.
But similar studies linking cellphone use to poor driving have been challenged, most recently by researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, who concluded last month that some earlier studies were seriously flawed.
The report, published in the journal Epidemiology, referred to earlier studies that examined crashes in which cellphone records showed that the driver had used a cellphone. Those studies “likely overestimated the relative risk for cell phone conversations,” the researchers said, because they improperly assumed that the drivers were actually in motion when they were on the phone — in other words, they didn’t factor in such so-called part-time driving.
The NTSB recommendation wouldn’t cover GPS devices, but — if it eventually becomes law — it would ban using your phone for any reason, even with a Bluetooth headset or speakers. The only exception would be to call 911 in an emergency.