The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) voted unanimously today to recommend states completely ban the use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices in vehicles, reports the Associated Press. The recommendation suggests going far beyond the current restrictions on texting and talking on the phone while driving to include outlawing the use of hands-free devices.
The five-member board of the NTSB made their decision after a 19-year-old driving his pickup truck near Gray Summit, MO, crashed into a school bus, which in turn ran over a smaller vehicle and crashed into another bus. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old aboard one of the buses were killed in the accident. Records show that the pickup driver had sent or received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the crash.
“Driving was not his only priority,” said NTSB chairman Deborah Hershman. “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”
Despite bans on texting, studies show that the dangerous practice is only getting worse. According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two of every 10 drivers, and half of drivers ages 21 to 24, admit to texting while behind the wheel. And one in every 100 American drivers are either texting, emailing, browsing the Web or using their handheld devices for some other activity, at any given time. Even more troubling: The people only think these activities are dangerous when they see someone else doing it.
Following the announcement of its recommendation, the NTSB has taken to Twitter to emphasize their safety warnings, publishing a flurry of updates: “Turn the portable electronic devices off before turning the car on,” reads one. “Life is far more precious than a phone call or a playlist.” And, “Distraction kills. More than a minivan load of people. Every day.”
What do you think of the NTSB’s decision? Do you think a ban on using all electronic devices in the car is a good idea? Could such a law be enforced? Would anybody follow such a law? Would you?
[Image via Poulsons PhotographyShuttertock]