Ever since the late '80s when kids on Beverly Hills, 90210 had Beamers equipped with "car phones," Americans have been more than happy to gab away while cruising the streets. But those days could soon come to an end, if a federal safety board is able to influence state legislators.
The National Transportation Safety Board voted to recommend a complete ban on the use of cellphones by drivers, noting the risks of distracted driving. That would mean no talking and, obviously, no texting. Their recommended ban even applies to hands-free devices (like Bluetooths), which is well beyond what any state law has in place right now. The board advised that, of course, drivers should be able to use their phones in the case of an emergency. But outside of that, nope, no sirree!
The panel acknowledges the ban, which would have to be enacted by individual states, may be "unpopular among some people." Personally, I hope all 50 do the right thing and make it happen!
Silencing and abandoning our cellphones as soon as we start driving needs to become as common as clicking in our seatbelts the minute we get in the car. As Deborah A. P. Hersman, chairman of the N.T.S.B. put it, “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life." And as much as people might want to argue that they're a-okay to talk and drive, text and drive, use Facebook or Twitter and drive (so crazy), it's a lie. Even using a hands-free device is dangerous, because there's still a part of your brain that's concentrating more on that conversation you're carrying on than the road.
In fact, research shows that drivers using hands-free devices (and of course those using handheld phones) have a tendency to "look at" but not "see" objects. Estimates indicate that drivers on cellphones fail to really "see" up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. CASE CLOSED!
I know what I'm saying might irritate some of my closest friends, who have a habit of making calls while commuting in the evenings. But when I tell them to hang up and call me back when they get home, it's because I love them, and I don't want to be chatting it up with them if it means they're more likely to run a red light or fail to see that other driver or pedestrian until it's too late.
This ban may "sound extreme" now, but the good it could do is tremendous. It's exactly what this country needs to save drivers from themselves.
What do you think about this ban? Do you think all states should adopt and enforce it?
Image via Jason Weaver/Flickr