Following the December 13 Board meeting on the 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.
The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.
“According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents”, said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”
“No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life.”
In a recent study conducted by the Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) researchers found that a driver’s reaction time is doubled when distracted by reading or sending a text message. This reaction time also extends to other driving distractions that involve reading and writing, such as checking e-mail or Facebook.
“Most research on texting and driving has been limited to driving simulators. This study involved participants driving an actual vehicle, “ CTS Associate Transportation Researcher Christine Yager says. “So one of the more important things we know now that we didn’t know before is that response times are even slower than we previously thought.”
The NTSB recommends that all states should ban all phones and electronic devices, including GPS and that it should apply to hands-free and hand-held phones alike. Currently 35 states, Washington D.C., and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers; nine states, Washington D.C., and the Virgin Islands ban hand-held devices; and there are no states that ban hands-free devices.
Read the full press release.