NTSB Calls for a National Ban on Cell Phones Behind the Wheel
Many individual states and cities in the USA have their own restrictions on the use of cell phones by drivers, yesterday the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for nationwide ban on drivers placing phone calls or sending/reading text messages. The new ban, if passed, would outlaw all non-emergency calls and texts by every driver in the USA, including both handheld and hands-free devices.
The proposed NTSB ban far exceeds current laws existing in at least 35 states.
Evidence so far shows that existing laws have not diminished texting while driving. The Associate Press reports that NHTSA data shows it increasing. Roughly 20% of USAmerican drivers – including half of drivers aged 21 to 24 – say they’ve texted or sent email while driving.
In a strange coincidence, the NTSB ban was announced on the same day that new analysis of existing data claims that the dangers of cell phone use while driving may have been overestimated.
Researchers at Detroit’s Wayne State University School of Medicine re-examined two influential studies on distracted driving and car crashes and found problems in the methodologies used.
The two studies in question, a 1997 Canadian study and a 2005 Australian study, compared cell phone billing records of people who’d been involved in crashes. The billing records concretely determined the amount of phone use, but according to Richard Young, lead author of the new analysis, claimed that the studies weren’t as diligent about determining the amount of driving done by these drivers over the same period.
The Wayne State analysis was published in Epidemiology. You can read the Time Magazine story of both the proposed ban and the research analysis here.