Safety Council Wants Mobile Phone Driving Bans Across US
First they enforce seatbelt laws, now they want to ban cell phones while driving? The US National Safety Council is trying yet again to make roads, and the lives of people traveling on them, safer. Mobile phones - even those equipped with headset devices - should be altogether banned from use while driving because the act increases the risk of crashing by up to 4X, says the non-profit safety group.
Many states and Washington, D.C. have laws requiring the use of a hands-free device while driving and using a cellphone. But several recent studies have shown drivers are far more distracted when speaking on a mobile phone, even with a speaker or headset, than talking to a live passenger.
Last month Dave Strayer of the University of Utah and colleagues demonstrated that drivers using a hands-free device drifted out of their lanes and missed exits more frequently than drivers talking to a passenger.
Strayer's team has also shown that drivers using mobile telephones are as impaired as drivers who are legally drunk.
The National Safety Council will be lobbying state legislators and hoping they'll get behind their cause. Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the council, is confident that they'll be successful in their attempts to amend state laws:
"We have been through this before with seatbelts, with drunk driving. We do research. When the research demonstrates that something is very dangerous and we can save lives, we educate the public about it. We educate legislators about it," she said in a telephone interview.
In the US, driving while talking or text messaging on a mobile phone is banned in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.