Last updated: December 22, 2011 - 5:05pm
[Commentary] After completing its investigation of a 2010 highway accident in Gray Summit (MO) where a pickup driver who had been texting ran into a truck and set off a series of collisions that killed two and injured 38, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its strongest recommendation yet on distracted driving. The board called for the 50 states and the District to ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new laws and suggests using NHTSA’s model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans.
The level of distraction will only rise as new handheld devices are released each year and the automotive industry develops ever more sophisticated in-vehicle infotainment systems. A partnership between Intel and Toyota is exploring “ways to integrate vehicles with the home to provide a seamless connection across all areas of people’s lives.” Yet what is the price of that seamless connection? It’s too high. Just ask the families of those 3,092 people who died last year. We are still learning what the human brain can — and cannot — handle. We know that there are four types of driver distraction — visual, aural, manual and cognitive — and that the use of portable electronic devices involves several, if not all. At the NTSB, our charge is to investigate accidents, learn from them and recommend changes. In Gray Summit and on highways across the United States, thousands of people were killed last year in the blink of an eye. In the typing of a text. In the push of a send button. It’s time to put a stop to distraction. Just because we can stay connected when we drive does not mean we should. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.
[Hersman is chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.]
- NTSB recommends ban on driver cell phone use
- NTSB tells workers to hang up cells
- Department of Transportation Proposes ‘Distraction’ Guidelines for Automakers
- Dept of Transportation Proposes New Anti-Texting Rule
- NTSB chief backs cellphone ban in cars even if policy is ‘not popular with folks’
- Federal Ban on Texting for Commercial Truck Drivers
- Safety board: Ban cellphone use by truckers
- US Won't Back Ban on Phones for Drivers
- Feds Weigh Cell Phone Ban For Bus, Truck Drivers
- In Study, Texting Lifts Crash Risk by Large Margin
- What if Insurers Didn’t Pay for Crashes Caused by Texting?
- Should Drivers Hang Up? State Officials To Weigh In
- Government to consider limits on distracted driving
- Texting bans may add risk to roads
- Texters, you'd be better off driving drunk