Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NTSB wants to ban all commercial electronics use by vehicle drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board wants Congress or other federal regulatory agencies to ban all use of consumer electronics by drivers of motor vehicles, whether personal or commercial. 
 
The NTSB has no authority to impose such a ban, but its recommendations carry weight. On the other hand, many conservatives are likely to say that such regulations should be left to states. 
  
To its credit, the NTSB wants cell phones and perhaps iPad- like devices to detect whether being used in motion (over walking speed) and be able to differentiate between passenger and driver use.  It would allow 911 calls and GPS devices.
 
The NTSB recommendations would not allow exceptions for hands-free or Bluetooth use.  The NTSB says that cognitive distraction is the real problem.  Other devices, like iPads and Kindles, could not be used legally, either. 
 
Yup, the whole country should follow Oprah’s “no phone zone”.  But this goes further.
 
Consumer Reports has a good news story here.
 
I would wonder if this could affect what consumer electronics are allowed in cars, especially rental cars.  There are other kinds of distraction, such as eating, even sipping coffee.  Would CD and DVD players be an issue? 
 
Anderson Cooper did a report on distracted driving on AC360 last week (see TV blog Dec. 8).
I do not answer cell phone calls when driving unless I can pull over and stop.  If I do not pick up on a call, it is likely that I am driving.   Virginia bans cell phone use only in work zones but does ban texting. Maryland and DC ban all hand-held use. 
 
We might see more government statements about wireless radiation exposure and health in the future.

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