NTSB Recommends Cellphone Ban While Driving

Recommendation includes hands-free phones.

By Patrick Healy
|  Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011  |  Updated 10:55 PM PDT
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A proposal to ban all cell phone use in vehicles for safety is not going over well in Southern California. But experts say, it's an inconvenient reality that cell phone use behind the wheel can kill

Jesse Gary and Sean Browning

A proposal to ban all cell phone use in vehicles for safety is not going over well in Southern California. But experts say, it's an inconvenient reality that cell phone use behind the wheel can kill

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NTSB Recommends Cellphone Ban While Driving

The National Transportation Safety Board is proposing a nationwide ban on drivers using cellphones -- even hands-free devices like the Bluetooth.
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You are probably familiar with California's ban on the use of handheld cellphones while driving. Yet, a lot of states still don't have even that.

But now the National Transportation Safety Board is proposing a nationwide ban on drivers using cellphones -- even hands-free devices like the Bluetooth.

It's a bold proposal, and there's a real question whether any states are ready to take that leap. Only with reluctance have many drivers accepted California's ban on texting and handheld calling.

But that does not go far enough, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The board wants a ban on all calls while driving, even hands-free, with emergencies being the only exception.

"It's time to put a stop to distraction," says NTSB chair Deborah Hersman. "No call, no text, no update is worth a human life."

The bold proposal came with the NTSB's analysis of this horrible chain reaction crash that took two lives and injured dozens last year in Missouri. The conclusion: it was started by the inattention of the pickup truck driver who was texting.

Hersman says this type of driver is not unusual.

“This driver was doing something that many of his peers on the roadway do,"says Herman.

Hersman attributes 3,100 traffic fatalities a year to distracted driving. Thirty five states now forbid drivers while texting, but only nine forbid handheld calling.

The NTSB's call comes even as the auto industry has been making a big push for digital features in cars -- some of which would appear to run afoul of the NTSB's intentions.

The NTSB is not asking Congress to require the car industry to remove Bluetooths from autos, instead, the NTSB is asking all states to outlaw drivers from using those hands-free systems --except in an emergency.

But even the legislator who wrote California's hands-free law has doubts.

Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, says he welcomes the recommendation, but “it is a non-starter, politically.”

Simitian agrees with NTSB’s message that distracted driving is a life and death issue, but he doesn’t think the ban will actually happen any time soon.

What do you think about the proposal? Should all cellphone use be banned, including hands-free devices? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: Twitter: @NBCLA // Facebook: NBCLA

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