Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board urged a complete ban on the use of cell phones while driving. The Board has recommended that all states adopt a complete ban on the use of cell phones while driving — including texting and emailing — except in emergency situations. It would include a ban on using phones even with hands-free devices. While the Board doesn’t have the authority to enact any legislation, its opinion does hold sway with federal and state regulators and legislators.
The impetus behind the suggestion is the increasing problem of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data, at least 3,092 roadway fatalities involved distracted driving, though it suspects the number is much higher. And cell phone use is one of the sources of distraction. At any given daylight moment, an estimated 13.5 million drivers are using their phones.
The proposal appears to have support among many Central Texas traffic enforcement officials. In an Austin American Statesman article this morning, Texas Department of Transportation spokesman John Hurt said he thought transportation departments would support the ban. Also, spokespersons for the Austin Police Department said they’d support a ban.
I can’t imagine such a ban passing, but I do hope that the proposal starts a discussion about the increased dangers of distracted driving. This is a serious problem that we see every day. One of the APD officers said in best in the Statesman article when he said that we need a culture change. Hopefully we can start moving to that change.