It is three months since a ban on the use of new and old cell phones by all drivers except in emergencies, was called for by the National Transportation Safety Board. However, at an agency hearing this week, experts admitted that society simply isn’t ready for such a complete freezing of communications and that enforcing such a blanket ban would be highly problematic.
The forum ‘Attentive Driving: Countermeasures for Distraction’, which was held all day Tuesday, saw discussion focus on the growing popularity of portable electronic devices and how they are used by motorists. “It’s time to address how to modify attitudes, change behaviors, and save lives,” says the chairperson of the safety board, Deborah AP Hersman. “We don’t need another decade of investigations and recommendations. We need to act now. Too much is at stake.”
The recommendation, which was made back in the December of last year, stirred up controversy, with some people applauding the strong stand taken by the agency, but others bemoaning what they saw as yet another example of “intrusive government” sticking their noses in where it doesn’t belong.
Nine states in the US currently ban hand-held use of cell phones, with 35 having forbidden text messaging while driving, but not one has yet enacted a complete ban. A number of panelists and even board members also questioned why electronic devices were suddenly so much of a target given that distractions such as eating, applying makeup and even reading while driving have been going on for years.