Ban all electronics for drivers, US safety agency says

The NTSB has recommended that states ban the use of all electronics, not just texting and calling

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board recommended on Tuesday that states outlaw the use of all electronic devices, while driving, including cellphones with hands-free kits.

The board's proposal goes beyond laws already in place in many states against texting and against using phones without hands-free kits. It would cover all drivers of personal as well as commercial vehicles. The NTSB cannot enact or enforce laws itself but investigates accidents and issues recommendations for highway safety. In the past, it has recommended state laws for seatbelt use and other safety measures.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman announced the proposal after the board reviewed a recent crash in Missouri that killed two people and injured 38. In that incident, the driver of a pickup truck sent and received 11 texts in the 11 minutes before he crashed into a tractor-trailer rig at 55 miles per hour, setting off a multicar pileup that included a bus.

"It may seem like it's a very quick call, a very quick text, a Tweet, or an update, but accidents happen in the blink of an eye," Hersman said. "Thousands of lives have been lost due to distraction." The agency estimates that more than 3,000 people died in 2010 in distraction-related accidents.

In making the recommendation to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the NTSB took aim at driver distractions rather than specific devices. Its investigations show that even hands-free calls have distracted drivers enough to cause serious accidents, Hersman said.

The proposal would make an exception for electronics that assist in the driving process, such as GPS (Global Positioning System), and for emergency calls while driving, such as to report an accident or hazard. It will be up to law enforcement to define emergencies, Hersman said.

In a report released earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the incidence of texting while driving had increased by 50 percent over the past year. That was despite the fact that 34 states, the District of Columbia and the Territory of Guam have banned texting for all drivers and seven other states have banned it for novice drivers.

Hersman expressed confidence in law enforcement's ability to enforce such laws, saying they are able to detect drivers who are weaving or driving erratically. But she said it will take more than laws to stop drivers from distracting themselves.

"It's up to all of us to do the right thing, even when no one is watching," Hersman said.

CTIA, the main U.S. trade organization for mobile operators, said it supported bans on manual texting and deferred to state and local lawmakers and citizens to determine the best laws for the areas where they live.

"We have always encouraged the industry to continue to develop new technology-based tools and offerings that are affordable and consumer-friendly that would create safer driving," CTIA CEO Steve Largent said in a written statement. "The industry constantly produces new products and services, including those that can disable the driver's mobile device."

Tags consumer electronicsAutomotivectiaindustry verticalsgovernmentlegislationmobileNational Transportation Safety Board

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?