Federal Agency Urges Total Ban on All Cellphones While Driving

It could happen on any road at any time. One day in 2010 near Gray Summit, Missouri, a four-vehicle accident-including a pickup truck, commercial trailer and two school buses full of people-left three dead and 38 injured. During the investigation, the police discovered that the 19-year-old pickup driver had sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes just before the accident. He was seen leaning over just prior to smashing into the rear of the semi near a highway work zone, setting off the chain-reaction collision.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSB)-a federal agency that provides vehicle safety recommendations and statistics-distracted drivers, including those using cellphones, contributed to 3,092 deaths on the road in 2010. In response to what it calls an epidemic, the NTSB recently recommended a nationwide ban on the use of any cellphone or other electronic messaging device while driving. The ban would include handheld as well as hands-free devices such as Bluetooth earpieces, although it would allow the use of devices pre-installed by a manufacturer.

With safety as its main concern, the NTSB has increasingly called for regulation of cellphones for the past decade. And many states have adopted some sort of law limiting the use of mobile devices while driving. Nine states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands currently prohibit drivers from using handheld cellphones. Nineteen states and D.C. have placed a complete ban on devices used by bus drivers. In 2010, Iowa banned the use of cellphones for texting or emailing by any driver.

The NTSB's indicates, however, that this is not enough and is now urging a total ban on all mobile devices. Along with the ban, the NTSB urges all states to produce campaigns aimed at educating the public of the danger of distracted driving.

Certainly, while many drivers may view this recommendation as an inconvenience, it will most likely save thousands of lives in Iowa and across the nation.