Cell Phones and Driving Don’t Mix, Says NTSB

Posted by · December 13, 2011 3:36 pm

In a 5-0 vote, the National Transportation Safety Board decided Tuesday that all states should be urged to pass legal bans on driver use of cell phones and all other handheld electronic devices. The news comes in an announcement released by the NTSB, which based its recommendations on a close study of a massive collision that took place in Gray Summit, Missouri, last year.

Speaking directly to the fifty states and the District of Columbia, the NTSB states, “Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers.”

According to a New York Times report, the NTSB recommendation includes any cell phone use, even if it’s relegated to hands-free use. The only exception: emergency use.

Discussing the board’s decision, NTSB chairperson Deborah Hersman held, “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.” Although she was willing to admit that it was a “difficult recommendation,” Hersman maintained that the timing and nature of the recommendation could not be better.

Ultimately, this recommendation is precisely that—a recommendation. State governments will ultimately have to decide for themselves whether such a ban would be appropriate and whether the severity of such a ban must be to the extent that the NTSB suggests.

Currently, not a single state has a ban on driver cell phone usage that meets the criteria proposed by the board.

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  • Jonathan

    Yup, let’s ban the use of CDs, or MP3 players, or radios, or GPS systems, too, while we’re at it!

    Are you serious? I understand a ban on texting, because that is too involved of a process to do while someone is driving. I also understand (kind-of) banning people from making calls, as outside of some ‘siri’ously kick-butt voice recognition software, finding a contact and dialing out is pretty involved as well.

    BUT, receiving a call and holding a phone to your ear is no more difficult than changing the radio station, putting in a new CD, monitoring your GPS, managing your baby in the back seat, the list goes on.

    With the invent of Siri and other voice recognition software, we are beginning to get to a point where the whole argument will be moot, anyway.

    My vote is for them to ban texting and placing calls. But for receiving calls, let it go!

  • That’s about where we are, both of us being California drivers. Texting and hands-on cell phone use are prohibited, but hands-free use is still permitted, as far as I know.

    You make a good point that other legal tasks are equally dangerous for a driver to perform while the car is moving; however, I don’t think that’s necessarily the strongest argument against strict sanctions on cell phone use, specifically. Rather, I would argue that the irresponsible management of CD players, children, et al should also result in citations, as those things often lead to reckless driving, which violates the implied contract with all other drivers that someone enters into when s/he gets behind the wheel.

    If preventing dangerous driving is the purpose of such a law, I think that hands-on use of electronic devices like cell phones is justifiably prohibited. However, I think that provisions should be made for their safe use through hands-free means.