Drivers across the country would no longer be legally able to talk, text or surf the web on a cell phone if the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gets its way, according to KnoxNews. The Board made a recommendation this month to get local, state and federal officials to prohibit the use of portable electronic devices for all drivers.
The recommendation comes after a recent meeting in which federal officials discussed the dangers of drivers' bad habits. The meeting covered the catastrophic traffic accident that happened in 2010 in Gray Summit, Missouri, in which a distracted driver allegedly killed two people and injured dozens more. In Missouri, drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). All other drivers are free to do as they wish behind the wheel. That's the problem with current laws. Most states prohibit drivers from texting, but not from talking on a cell phone. It's difficult for officials to determine if a driver is using a phone to call someone or typing a text message. A federal ban on all devices would help officials to bust drivers, and could help reduce the risks of distraction-related car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere.
Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand that NTSB doesn't have the authority to enact such a law, but its recommendations typically have a significant influence on laws that are passed by state, local and federal lawmakers. If this proposal were to become law, there would be a few exceptions. For instance, devices used to aid driver safety would be permitted, as well as during emergency situations.
"States aren't ready to support a total ban yet, but this may start the discussion," said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the GHSA.
Currently, there are 35 states that do not allow drivers to text at the wheel. Another nine states don't allow drivers to talk on a cell phone while driving. In these states, enforcement of these laws has not appeared to be a top priority.
"Needless lives are lost on our highways, and for what? Convenience? Death isn't convenient," said Deborah Hersman with the NTSB. "So we can stay more connected? A fatal accident severs that connection."
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than a million traffic accidents are caused by drivers who are distracted by cell phones every year. These accidents account for more than 20 percent of all recorded accidents.
Because of these alarming statistics, the NSC says it completely backs the NTSB and its decision to push for a nationwide ban on all electronic devices for drivers.
"This recommendation by NTSB is a national call to action to end distracted driving due to cell phone use. This is a growing public safety threat that needs to be addressed by legislators, employers and every person who operates a motor vehicle on our nation's roadways," said Janet Froetscher with the NSC.