NTSB Correct to Propose Ban on Cell Phone Use in Vehicles

by on October 9th, 2010
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COMMENTARY | According to CNN, the National Transportation Safety Board has proposed a ban on all non-emergency cell phone use by drivers on America’s roads, excluding hands-free headsets.

The strict proposal, the strongest yet by the NTSB, comes on the heels of an alarming study that found texting while driving to have increased a whopping 50 percent in 2010, says Fox News. Half of all individuals ages 21 to 24 are believed to have texted while behind the wheel, with 18 percent of all drivers polled admitting to the behavior.

Texting while driving has many dangers, asserts the FCC, which reports that 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2008 were influenced by the activity, a number that will have only increased over the last three years.

As a high school teacher with classrooms full of 15- and 16-year-olds about to get their driver’s licenses for the first time, I worry about their rampant cell phone use. By now, many 15-year-olds have likely had cell phones since elementary school, doled out by overindulgent or overprotective parents. Cell phones are considered a Constitutional right by most teenagers, most of whom are so comfortable with the devices that they will never hesitate to answer a call or text even at highway speeds.

If the NTSB finds that texting while driving is out of control among twentysomethings, imagine the situation five to 10 years from now.

Many teachers at my school tell me that we’ve lost the battle against cell phones in the classroom. Students seem addicted to the things, unable to stop fiddling with them even at the risk of disciplinary referrals, phone confiscation (which can reduce a defiant teen to tears) or a zero on a test for cheating. If these threats of real consequences cannot keep texts from flying it is unreasonable to think that mere public service announcements about the dangers of texting while driving will keep the younger generation from focusing behind the wheel.

To keep our roadways safer we need real laws with real bite. Just like teenagers in a classroom, drivers will learn quickly whether or not the authority figure in charge means business.

Personal disclaimer: As a driver who has almost been hit by a young texter I am decidedly biased against texting while driving.

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