Government Law

NTSB Seeks Ban on Cellphone Talking, Texting While Driving

The National Transportation and Safety Board is recommending a nationwide ban on all cellphone talking and texting while driving.

The recommendation is aimed at preventing distracted-driving crashes, agency officials say.

“Too many people are texting, talking and driving at the same time,” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said at a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Bloomberg reports. “It’s time to put a stop to distraction. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”

The NTSB recommends safety improvements for U.S. agencies, but can’t implement those improvements by itself. The agency, for example, has been recommending collision warning systems on cars since the mid-1990s.

The agency’s recommendation would have to be adopted separately by each state, since the states have the authority to regulate driver behavior. States should adopt electronic-device bans, then back up those laws with aggressive enforcement in the same way they have with drunken driving and seat-belt use, Hersman said.

The safety board strengthened its anti-phone stance after completing an investigation into an August 2010 crash in Gray Summit, Mo., that killed two people and injured 38 others. The 19-year-old driver who caused that crash—and died in it—had sent or received 11 text messages in the minutes before plowing into the back of a tractor-trailer. Two school buses then collided into the crashed vehicles.

Safety regulators have been debating how much to regulate drivers’ cellphone use for the past decade. And state and local laws are all over the map. Missouri, for instance, prohibits texting while driving but only for people under the age of 21.

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