The other day, we heard that the U.S. NTSB would be proposing a nationwide ban on mobile phone use, and people were speculating that it’d increase sales and use of hands-free calling. I thought that would be odd, since a number of studies have made it clear that it’s mostly talking on your mobile phone that’s dangerous, whether it’s hands-free or not. There’s cognitive interference when you talk to someone who isn’t in the car with you, and having the device be hands-free only helps with the mechanical aspects, not with the cognitive ones, and those appear to be more important from a safety point of view.
And, as I expected, the proposed ban includes hands-free devices. Quoting from their news release of yesterday:
No call, no text, no update behind the wheel: NTSB calls for nationwide ban on PEDs while driving
December 13, 2011
Following today’s Board meeting on the 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle.
The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.
According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents, said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.
No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life.
nonemergency use and
other than those designed to support the driving task. There is no exception for hands-free devices in their recommendation.
The NTSB has no standing to force this; in the United States, the states make their own traffic rules. But Congress can back the recommendation with funding incentives, as they did with the now-defunct 55 MPH speed limit, and as they have done for laws requiring seat-belt use.