NTSB Calls for Nationwide Ban on Driver Cell Phone UseDecember 14th, 2011 by DWM Magazine
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for the first-ever nationwide ban on the use of all personal electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.
The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support driving) for all drivers.
In addition, NTSB is calling for a targeted campaign to warn motorists about the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving.
The recommendation came as the result of an NTSB board meeting yesterday that looked at a specific 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Mo., along with data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,” said NTSB Board chair Deborah A.P. Hersman. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life.”
In the Gray Summit accident the NTSB reviewed, a pickup truck rear-ended a truck-tractor that had slowed due to an active construction zone; the pickup truck was then rear-ended by a school bus, and the school bus was hit by a second school bus that had been following; as a result of the accident two people died and 38 others were injured.
NTSB’s investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor, according to information from NTSB.
The safety board also referenced a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study of commercial drivers that found that a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet in its recommendation.
NTSB also references data from the National Safety Council saying that drivers using cell phones “look but fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment.”
“The data is clear; the time to act is now. How many more lives will be lost before we, as a society, change our attitudes about the deadliness of distractions?” Hersman said.
While the NTSB is calling for a ban on cell phone use by all drivers, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently banned the use of handheld cellphones by interstate truck and bus drivers. This ban takes effect January 3.
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