The annoying, unsafe and rampant use of cellphones and text messaging among drivers could finally become illegal with the exception of emergency situations.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), via its group of accident investigators, has called for a nationwide ban on any non-emergency mobile phone calls texting while driving.
The use of texting while driving is nearly exponentially increasing, with some surveys detailing that half of all young drivers text while driving.
The NTSB in the past decade has increasingly proposed to limit the use of portable devices among drivers. Its latest recommendation is its most far-reaching proposal.
In past recommendations, the NTBS has sought similar bans for novice drivers, school bus drivers and commercial truckers.
The new recommendation, if adopted by states, would outlaw non-emergency phone calls and texting by operators of every vehicle on the road. It would not apply to hand-free devices or to passengers.
The dangers of cellphone use was first investigated thoroughly in 1997.
The practice had become so popular, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study that assessed the potential dangers in the growing use of wireless phones.
When the NHTSA released its study the report was responding to the alarming increase in driver distraction posed by cell phones. When analyzing crash data the agency discovered a wide berth of information, some that seemed potentially erroneous or inconclusive, at best, based on limitations in crash data.
The summary of the report explained, “Although there is a serious under-reporting bias in the data, there are trends which show that cellular telephone use is a growing factor in crashes.”
The new report did not give further details on when states might consider the nationwide ban.
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Article Last Updated: December 13, 2011.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.