U.S. Safety Board Urges Cellphone Ban for Drivers
By MATT RICHTEL December 13, 2011
A federal agency on Tuesday called for a ban on all cellphone use by drivers - the most far-reaching such recommendation to date - saying its decision was based on a decade of investigations into distraction-related accidents, as well as growing concerns that powerful mobile devices are giving drivers even more reasons to look away from the road.
As part of its recommendation, the National Transportation Safety Board is urging states to ban drivers from using hands-free devices, including wireless headsets. No state now outlaws such activity, but the board said that drivers faced serious risks from talking on wireless headsets, just as they do by taking a hand off the wheel to hold a phone to their ear.
And Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the N.T.S.B., an independent federal agency responsible for promoting traffic safety and investigating accidents, said the concern was heightened by increasingly powerful phones that people can use to e-mail, watch movies and play games.
"Every year, new devices are being released," she said. "People are tempted to update their Facebook page, they are tempted to tweet, as if sitting at a desk. But they are driving a car."
The agency based its recommendation on evidence from its investigation of numerous crashes in which electronic distraction was a major contributing factor.