National texting-while-driving ban proposed

In our last post we discussed the role that cellphones play in Nashville distracted driving car accidents. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently proposed a national ban on texting while driving and yesterday the National Transportation Safety Board recommended blanket ban on any cellphone device use while driving. The NTSB does not have the power to create laws but it has influence with both the White House and Congress.

"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving."

Although text-while-driving is already illegal in most states, the NTSB recommendation is significant because the NTSB is the first government agency to advocate a full-out cellphone ban. The recommendation has been called a "game changer" by some, but others believe that states are not ready to make the leap to ban cellphone use outright because of enforceability issues.

Texting while driving rates appear to be increasing even as more states ban the practice. Half of teens also say that they answer the phone while driving and many drivers are actively surfing the web on their smart phones while driving. The vast majority of drivers say that they are aware of the dangers of texting while driving but a third of all drivers still report using their phones to talk and text during trips.

It is unclear whether Tennessee will adopt the full-cellphone use ban or whether such a ban will help decrease the number of distracted driving crashes in the state.

Source: Washington Post, "NTSB pushes for nationwide ban on cellphone use for drivers," Pat Wellenbach, Dec. 14, 2011

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