Using electronic devices behind the wheel is dangerous and no driver should be allowed to use cell phones - even hands-free devices - while driving, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.
The five-member board unanimously approved a resolution calling on state governments and federal regulators to ban the use of phones and electronic devices while driving, except in emergency situations.
The resolution is only a recommendation and will have no direct impact on state or federal highway laws, but is still one of the strongest stances against using phones and other electronic devices while driving.
The NTSB said that use of electronic devices while driving is a distraction that has caused a number of fatal accidents over the last decade, including a pileup in Missouri last year that killed two people and injured 35, some seriously.
In August 2010, a pickup truck driver who was distracted by his phone rammed the back of a big-rig that had slowed for a construction zone. Then the pickup was hit from behind by a school bus, which was thrown into the air before it crashed down on the truck, killing the driver. A second school bus then slammed into the first school bus, killing a passenger who was in the back of the first bus.
The pickup driver had sent 11 text messages in the 11 minutes before the crash, including some just moments before impact, the board said.
He was "most likely distracted from the driving task by a text messaging conversation at or near the time of the accident," the board said.
The accident is a "big red flag for all drivers," NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said at today's meeting.
Many states, including California, already ban text messaging while driving and require the drivers use hands-free devices.
But the board's resolution suggests those laws don't go far enough.
The board also called on wireless companies to create technology that would "disable the functions of these portable electronic devices within reach of the driver when a vehicle is in motion," the resolution read.
I say, it's about time! Hang up & drive! Just this morning, I had to hang up on my mom, for about the gazillionth time, because she called me while she was driving. She's even been in an accident while using her cell phone, you'd think she'd have learned her lesson! You might think that phone call or that text is super important, or you might be willing to risk your own life for a call or text, but it's never going to be important enough for you to risk *MY* life & my kids' lives on the road. Hang up & Drive!