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NTSB Urges Nationwide Ban on Texting While Driving

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for a nationwide ban on texting and making phone calls while driving.  The NTSB's recommendation specifically asks all 50 states and Washington D.C. to ban all nonemergency use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices for all drivers. The NTSB is also recommending that states use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) method of high-visibility enforcement to support such bans, and that states implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new laws. "According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in a statement.  "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." In the last several years, the use of cell phones and personal electronic devices has exploded, according to the NTSB. Globally, there are 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers, which accounts for 77 percent of the world population. Nationwide, the percentage of cell phone users is even higher, exceeding 100 percent. Texting and talking on a cell phone while driving can be incredibly dangerous, causing auto accidents and trucking accidents.  In 2009, nearly 5,500 fatalities and 500,000 injuries resulted from crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the NHTSA.  The NTSB's recommendation is based on the investigation of several accidents caused by the use of electronic devices in recent years, including:

  • A 2002 motor vehicle accident in 2002 that occurred after a driver "distracted by a conversation on her cellphone" crashed and killed five people in Largo;
  • A 2004 bus accident on the George Washington Parkway that injured 11 high school students;
  • A 2008 commuter train collision with a freight train in Chatsworth, California, in which 25 people were killed and dozens were injured; and
  • A 2010 boating accident in Philadelphia that killed two tourists.

Currently, Illinois and Chicago laws and ordinances prohibit the following use of electronic devices while driving:

  • Drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from using wireless phones (with or without hands-free devices) while driving.
  • All drivers are prohibited from text messaging, emailing, and using the Internet while driving.
  • Drivers are prohibited from using cellular phones in school speed zones and construction/road maintenance zones.
  • In Chicago, all drivers talking on mobile phones must use hands-free devices.

Source: Washington Post Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.