At any given moment in 2010, about one in every 100 drivers on the road in California and across the U.S. was using their cell phone to text, send an email, or surf the Internet. This marked a staggering 50 percent increase over the previous year's cell phone use behind the wheel. As a result, federal lawmakers are working to deter and hopefully forbid any and all cell phone use while driving.
Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board made news when it released a recommendation urging all 50 states to issue a complete ban of cell phone use behind the wheel. The goal of this movement is to reduce (and ultimately eliminate) auto accidents caused by distracted driving.
The NTSB also pointed to other types of crashes when announcing the recommendation, such as the head-on train collision in California in 2008, which killed 25 people, or the boating accident involving a tourist duck boat in Pennsylvania in 2010. In both of those fatal accidents, at least one of the vehicle operators was texting or using an electronic device in some way.
Currently, 35 states ban texting behind the wheel, and nine states forbid the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. California and 29 other states ban cell phone use in teenage or other new drivers. Under the NTSB recommendation, all 50 states would enact complete bans of cell phone use in any form while driving, except in emergency situations.
The NTSB recommendation is in no way mandatory, and board members know that getting all 50 states to pass such a ban will be an uphill battle. However, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman says that the results will be worth it. "We're not here to win a popularity contest," she said. "No email, no text, no update, no call is worth a human life."
Source: CBS News, "NTSB: Ban all driver use of cell phones," Dec. 13, 2011