NTSB Cell Phone Ban
December 14, 2011 by staff
NTSB Cell Phone Ban, Federal officials are calling for a complete ban on cellphone use while driving after the National Transportation Safety Board made a recommendation to do so, but some Maryland lawmakers are calling the thought unrealistic, even though they are prepared to pursue stricter cellphone laws next year.
A fatal chain-reaction crash in 2010 in Missouri prompted the drastic recommendation, which was announced Wednesday. The NTSB said it found that a 19-year-old driver caused the wreck after exchanging 11 texts before slamming into a truck and two school buses.
“And yes, that does apply to Bluetooth, handheld and hands-free. It is both a visual and a cognitive distraction, and the manual distractions are what we are concerned about,” said NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman. “The recommendation would allow drivers to continue to use GPS devices.”
However, the hands-free speakerphones that come standard with many cars would be off limits.
But the idea of a total phone ban is inconceivable to many who rely on their phones for everything.
Delegate Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, is on the House Motor Vehicle and Transportation Subcommittee. She said she doesn’t believe a cellphone ban is realistic in any state; however, she said it’s time to tighten Maryland’s laws about talking or texting in the driver’s seat.
Currently, drivers in Maryland can get pulled over for texting while driving, but not for dialing the phone.
“The truth is we’re all guilty — every single one of us,” she said. “The laws are inconsistent. How can you have a texting law that makes it a primary offense, and the use of a cellphone is a secondary offense? You can’t do one without the other.”
“Cellphone usage is a secondary offense. You can be right next to the police and talking away, and they can’t do a thing to you unless you run a red light,” she continued.
Drivers can only get a ticket for dialing while driving if they’re caught breaking another traffic law at the same time. Glenn said she wants to make talking without a hands-free device a primary offense that comes with a stiffer penalty than a $40 fine.
State officials said it’s impossible to calculate the actual toll of distracted driving, but cellphone use has been cited in a fatal train crash in California, a deadly boat collision in Philadelphia and in an incident where a passenger jet strayed 100 miles past its destination.
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