NTSB proposes call/text ban for drivers

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The fight against distracted driving gained steam as the National Transportation Safety Board voted unanimously to recommend that all states ban the use of “personal electronic devices” while operating a motor vehicle.

As part of the recommendation, the NTSB also recommended “high-visibility enforcement” to support the proposal and targeted educational campaigns to inform motorists of the dangers of distracted driving.

“According to (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”

The wireless industry has been at the crux of these efforts, with most complaints targeted at drivers using their cellular devices when driving. The industry has actively promoted the use of technology and education to fight the cause but has been against a nationwide mandate citing the need to let local and state municipalities set regulations.

“CTIA and the wireless industry agree that when drivers are behind the wheel, safety should be their No. 1 priority,” noted wireless trade association CTIA in a statement issued after the NTSB recommendation. “Manual texting while driving is clearly incompatible with safety, which is why we have historically supported a ban on texting while driving. As far as talking on wireless devices while driving, we defer to state and local lawmakers and their constituents as to what they believe are the most appropriate laws where they live. … In regards to NTSB’s recommendation No. 12, we have always encouraged the industry to continue to develop new technology-based tools and offerings that are affordable and consumer-friendly that would create safer driving. The industry constantly produces new products and services, including those that can disable the driver’s mobile device.”

A number of states have enacted bans on holding a cellphone in a hand while driving, requiring drivers to use hands-free equipment if talking and driving. States have also enacted bans of texting while driving.

Efforts to curb distracted driving have been ongoing for years, but with a growing number of consumers carrying mobile devices efforts to curb the impact have grown. Further clouding this issue is the growing list of communication-linked devices in new automobiles that seem to encourage drivers to take up other activities rather than focusing on their driving.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
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Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”

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