NTSB prefers no cell phones while driving, and Ray LaHood wants a total ban

NTSB recommends ban on all cell-phone related communications while driving

Think no cell phone calls in or out, no texting, no updating, if the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has its way.

I first heard it on Breaking News on CNBC. Then I read it via Bloomberg on the web. Yes, the NTSB is taking a firm stand against drivers who use their cell phones while driving.

Question that automakers and owners have is whether this affects installed systems like GM’s OnStar and Ford’s Synch. Read TorqueNews article: Ford SYNC leading race to integrate smartphone apps into cars and OnStar wins Best Telematics Safety Technology Award for ninth time

Fact is, the NTSB has no legislating authority, but many legislators listen and read the NTSB recommendations.

According to the Bloomberg report, "Too many people are texting, talking and driving at the same time," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a hearing in Washington today. "It's time to put a stop to distraction. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life."

“Furthermore, systems built into cars, like General Motors Company’s OnStar, and global positioning systems wouldn't be affected by the ban,” said Kelly Nantel, an NTSB spokeswoman.

However, Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, believes motorists are distracted by any use of mobile phones while driving, including hands-free calls. So, his concerns obviously extend to vehicle information and entertainment systems such as General Motors (NYSE: GM) OnStar or Ford Motor Company' (NYSE: F) Sync.

The NTSB recommendation came about after the board completed its investigation into an August 2010 crash in Gray Summit, Mo., in which a 19-year-old GMC Sierra pickup driver sent or received 11 text messages in 13 minutes before plowing into the back of a tractor-trailer. Then two school buses collided with the stopped trucks. Unfortunately, the pickup driver and one bus passenger perished in the crash, while the truck driver and 37 other people were injured.

For the record, only states can enact laws of this nature. However, one has to wonder how much federal funds can be manipulated to create and enact an acceptable national policy, especially on interstates which receive the bulk of federal funds.

For the record, safety regulators have been debating how much to regulate drivers' cell-phone use for the past decade.

Based on the article research that TorqueNews writers have done on this subject over the past year, drivers need to be aware and cautious. Drivers in a crash especially have to be aware that the first steps investigators now take after accidents is to see if the use of phones and e-mail by operators was involved. Reason is, texting and talking on a cell phone while driving is so prevalent, that it appears to rank right up there with driving under the influence of alcohol; and may someday be treated in a similar fashion.

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected] and followed in Twitter under @Authorfranks
Additional Reading:
TorqueNews Exclusive: Fred Fresard, attorney for Dykema, addresses Chevy Volt fire
OnStar paying special attention to China with Mobile App launch
Apps now competing with plug-in devices to record driving data
OnStar wins Best Telematics Safety Technology Award for ninth time
OnStar FMV makes Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) its first retail partner

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Just what we need…more nanny state intervention..NOT! Ban texting? Sure. Phone use - limit it to hands free. We have the technology to determine if the driver(s) were using their phones seconds before impact. Maximum fines followed by loss of license for negligent driving while on the phone. Make it HURT! If the claim is that ALL phone conversations should be traffic violations, what about a driver that sees an emergency? Just drive on? Don’t call 911, you’ll get a $500 ticket? Do we ban playing the radio? It’s a distraction. Talking to passengers? Distraction. See how stupid one size fits all really is?