Update, Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Should all electronic devices be banned while you are behind the wheel? Federal safety experts say yes.
We live in a mobile society, one where everyone is always on the go, with a cell phone in one hand, and a laptop in another. For some, those devices are still attached to their ears and fingertips, even behind the wheel. That takes concentration off the road.
"With all the traffic we have out, especially during the holidays, everybody's going to the stores Christmas shopping. There's a lot more traffic out there, so, you need to be more aware of your surroundings, and what's going on with you," said Sgt. Troy Wells, Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department.
That is one reason the National Safety Transportation Board is stepping-in, recommending a nationwide ban of personal electronic devices to be used while driving. Those include tablet computers, iPods, cell phones and hands-free devices.
"We see distractions as becoming more and more prevalent across our society in all modes of transportation. And they have actually been the contribution or probable causes of a number of accidents we have investigated," said Deborah Hersman, NTSB Chairman.
NTSB studies show about 3,000 lives were lost last year in distraction-related accidents. Two of those deaths include people who died in an August 2010 accident in Missouri.
The NTSB says a pickup ran into the back of a tractor-tractor that had slowed for a construction zone. Two school buses then collided with the pickup, killing two and injuring 38. The driver of the pick-up had been texting.
Kansas is one of many states to already ban texting on an electronic device while driving. Officials say just because a distraction does not involve an electronic device, does not mean it is okay now, or in the future.
"Anything you're doing extra, like putting on make-up, or shaving, or texting, is a distraction, and is going to cause more wrecks," said Sgt. Wells.
The NTSB says hand-held devices or cell phones should only be used in emergency situations. These are only recommendations from the federal board and not enacted laws.
Currently, no state bans all cell phone use while driving. Thirty-five states ban texting while driving. Nine states prohibit the use of hand-held devices.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Federal accident investigators recommended states ban the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by all drivers except in emergencies.
The National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation followed a finding by the board that the initial collision in a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year was caused by the inattention of a 19-year-old pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the accident.
The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the school buses were killed. Thirty-eight other people were injured.
The NTSB's recommendation makes an exception for use of phones and other devices in emergency situations.
The board doesn't have the power to impose regulations, but its recommendations carry significant weight with lawmakers.