Responding to the alarming rate of road accidents caused by distracted driving, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving. The ban will be felt most strongly by commercial truck, school bus and novice drivers, all of whom have become accustomed to frequently placing phone calls and checking their phones for messages. This total ban means that use of cellular phones will only be allowed during an emergency.
Texting or Calling While Driving is Dangerous
An announcement from the NTSB indicates that the possibility of an accident greatly increases when a driver is distracted by phone calls and text messages. The report cites a recent report from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showing that commercial drivers are 163 times more likely to meet serious risks on the road if they are texting or making calls. Risky behaviors include:
- Failing to see oncoming traffic or vehicles attempting to pass
- Overlooking hazards such as pedestrians, obstructions and slippery or rough portions of the road
- Lacking the time and presence of mind to react to sudden changes on the road
- Missing signs of mechanical trouble that are otherwise clear
Death and Injury on the Road Linked to Texting and Calling
A 2008 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that 5,800 people were killed and 515,000 were injured in highway crashes directly caused by distracted driving. In 2010, around 3,000 highway fatalities were linked to the use of portable electronic devices alone. Authorities from all major traffic and transport agencies in the country agree that these numbers are unacceptable.
How Will the Ban Work?
So far, the NTSB has faced difficulty implementing a total ban on cell phone use among truckers and bus service drivers across the country. In fact, CNN reports that since 2000, when federal governments started imposing rules against using personal electronic devices while driving, only Alaska was willing to implement a complete ban. This change will give more weight to NTSB desires. Now, commercial drivers can only use cell phone in emergencies where the driver needs to contact law enforcement, fire departments or emergency medical services.
Most trucks and taxis are still equipped with permanently installed CB radios, which are less distracting and have long been accepted as a practical means of communication while driving. The ban means that drivers must set aside the added communications offered by cellular devices and go back to short, business-related communications that travel along CB radio waves.
As the NHTSA states in one road safety campaign, “No text, no calls, no updates are worth a life.” If you or someone you love was injured or killed because of a careless driver on a cell phone, contact our office for a free consultation. It is important you act quickly because the law limits the time allowed for placing a claim.