Federal safety board wants nationwide ban on cell phone use in cars

NTSB cites over 3,000 deaths from texting and other smartphone activities while driving

The federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the first-ever nationwide ban on the use of any  personal electronic devices while driving a car.

The NTSB recommendation calls for the ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices for all drivers.  The safety recommendation also urges law enforcement to use  high-visibility techniques to support the ban.  The recommendation includes hands-free and hand-held phones and would go beyond what many states have done to curb texting while driving.

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In the last two decades, there has been exponential growth in the use of cell-phone and personal electronic devices. Globally, there are 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers or 77% of the world population.  In the United States, that percentage is even higher, the NTSB stated.  A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study of commercial drivers found that a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet, the NTSB stated. 

"According to NHTSA[National highway Transportation safety Board], more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents", said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

This is becoming the new DUI," said Robert Sumwalt, a member of the safety board. "It's becoming an epidemic."

The NTSB has for the past few years been pushing hard for regulation of electronic device use in commercial and public transportation. 

Congress would need to enact a law for a nationwide ban and the NTSB recommendation would go a long way toward making such legislation possible.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  and on Facebook

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