All states should ban the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices, recommends the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). During a meeting this month, NTSB officials suggested that all electronic devices should be illegal for all drivers. The meeting was held to discuss the 2010 distracted-driving accident that happened in Gray Summit, Missouri, in which two people were killed and dozens more were injured. Investigators concluded that the driver who allegedly caused this accident was making phone calls and text messaging just seconds before the accident, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
The NTSB doesn’t have the authority to enact such laws, but its recommendations carry significant weight with congressional and state lawmakers and with federal officials. In the state of Alabama, only novice drivers are prohibited from talking on a cell phone. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, only novice drivers are prohibited from texting behind the wheel, too. All other drivers are free to engage in whichever electronic distractions they choose. These laws are to help reduce the risks of distraction-related car accidents in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere for novice drivers but do nothing to protect older drivers and other individuals sharing our roadways.
Our Alabama car accident attorneys understand that not all states have matching texting and cell phone bans. In 35 states, drivers are prohibited from texting at the wheel. Even less states ban drivers from using a cell phone at the wheel. As laws currently stand, enforcement is difficult because officers have a tough time determining if a driver was making a phone call or typing a text message. A nationwide ban on electronic devices would make enforcement of such laws much easier as there would be no confusion as to whether or not a driver was calling or texting.
The NTSB has concluded that electronic devices would be allowed under the recommendation if they were being used to aid safe driving habits, like GPS devices, etc. The NTSB also reiterated the importance of enforcing such bans.
Regarding the Gray Summit accident, the state of Missouri had a law that prohibited drivers under the age of 21 to text while driving, but officers weren’t actively enforcing it. The driver involved in that accident was underage. NTSB officials urge state officials to enact laws prohibiting the use of portable electronic devices for all drivers and couple the new laws with high-visibility enforcement efforts.
“Without the enforcement, the laws don’t mean a whole lot,” said NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt.
Distraction-related traffic accidents took the lives of more than 3,000 people in 2010. The National Safety Council (NSC) believes that distracted drivers caused nearly 1.5 million car crashes, or about 25 percent of all accidents, during the year. The NSC applauds the NTSB’s efforts to make our roadways safer, and strongly backs the total-ban proposal.
“Making citizens safer is one of the most important roles of government,” said Janet Froetscher from the NSC. “We are hopeful that legislators across the nation will recognize the value of NTSB investigations and recommendations and take the necessary actions proposed by NTSB to make our roadways safer.”
NTSB recommends ban on driver cell phone use, by Joan Lowy, Montomery Advertiser
Birmingham Car Accidents: Holiday a Good Time to Discuss Safe Driving with Elderly Family Members, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, November 28, 2011
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to Reduce Fatal Car Accidents in Alabama, Nation, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, November 10, 2011