The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a request to lawmakers regarding cell phone use by drivers. They not only want texting while driving banned, but all calls as well. And they want a unified federal ban that compounds laws already in place in a majority of states. If U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has his way, this could also mean extending the ban to hands-free calls. Getting something of this nature signed into law would affect the work habits of truck drivers throughout the nation. Currently, 35 states have some kind of cell phone or texting while driving ban in place.
You can read more about each type of restriction in each state from a comprehensive data table here: Governors Highway Safety Association
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) banned hand-held cell phones for commercial vehicle drivers last month. It banned texting for commercial drivers in January 2010. Too many people are texting, talking and driving at the same time, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a hearing in Washington this week. It’s time to put a stop to distraction. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life. While these are strong words that most people find sensible and agreeable, the potential impact on Class 8 Operators during the work shift keeps transportation industry leaders cautious.
Why is distracted driving such a heated issue?
The NTSB conducted research (some as far back as 1990) about how everyday distractions cause drivers to make critical errors in judgement. In their latest published report, they credit more than one in four accidents to distracted driving. Vehicle accidents kill thousands of people every year, and injure hundreds of thousands. Therefore, the NTSB has put a priority on getting state driving laws aligned with their federal level recommendations.
Because dangerous travel affects nearly everyone in the country, the recommendations by the NTSB are gaining strong support from safety groups, education boards and many local, state and federal politicians. This also frees up state and federal money to be used for media campaigns designed to deter drivers from using their mobile devices while in their vehicles. Because it’s a popular issue, many groups are using some jarring imagery to get the point across, such as this ad placed by the South Dakota Department of Highway Safety.
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What do you think could be done about distracted driving on our roads? Should restrictions be tightened?