National Transportation Safety Board Urges Total Ban on Cellphone Use While Driving

Following a rash of deadly accidents caused by drivers distracted by texting and other cellphone use (like the August 2010 multi-truck and car pileup in Missouri that killed two people that investigators now attribute to texting), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has urged states to pass laws imposing a total ban on cellphone use while driving, including hands-free use.

As NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman aptly observed, while the recommendation would likely be unpopular with drivers accustomed to cellphone use behind the wheel, “[n]o email, no text, no update, no call is worth a human life.”

While the NTSB’s recommendation is not binding on the states, it carry significant weight.

A second recommendation issued by the NTSB urged states to aggressively enforce current bans on text messaging and the use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices while driving. Without enforcement, even the toughest laws have little effect. Proof of the positive impact of increased enforcement can be seen from pilot projects in Syracuse, NY, and Hartford CT, where stepped-up ticketing and public initiatives caused significant drops in hand-held cellphone use for texting or talking.