NTSB: no distracted driving, no cell phones behind the wheel

Next time you’re tempted to reach for your cell phone behind the wheel, consider this: in December 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for a nationwide ban on using any personal electronic devices behind the wheel.

The NTSB suggests banning drivers from using any and all devices for non-emergency purposes, including hands-free devices. The board also called for better enforcement of current laws restricting the use of devices while driving.

“No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

The board’s recommendation came after the investigation of a deadly crash last year in Gray Summit, Missouri. The collision involved two school buses and caused 2 deaths and 38 injuries. The massive pileup resulted from a collision caused by a 19-year-old driving a pickup, who had sent and received a total of 11 text messages in the 11 minutes leading up to the crash. A text a minute on a cell phone behind the wheel of a pickup truck!

The NTSB cited several other accidents caused by drivers using both handheld and hands-free cell phones and devices while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 3,000 deaths from accidents caused by distracted driving in 2010.

Currently, only 9 states prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving and 35 states prohibit texting while driving. No states have banned the use of hands-free devices.

To learn more about avoiding risks while driving, take a drivers ed course or check out http://www.distraction.gov/ for facts and tips about staying device-free behind the wheel.