The NHTSA in the United States will not be seeking to implement bans on the use of hands free cell phone devices while driving, according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. While some people claim that the devices, such as Onstar from GM or Ford’s Sync are every bit as distracting as talking or texting on an ordinary cell phone, LaHood says the NHTSA does not have enough evidence to justify attempting to support a ban. He claims that they are investigating whether such devices could constitute a ‘cognitive distraction’ for drivers. “We base our solutions on data, and before I or anyone else gets up and starts talking about ‘hands free this’ or ‘hands free that’, or Sync or whatever, we want to have good data to back it up.”
Ford and GM continue to maintain that their ‘hands free’ devices are safe to use while driving, with Alan Hall from Ford seemingly particularly unimpressed with the notion that the NHTSA were investigating their devices. “Drivers are going to have conversations on the phone, read maps and directions, and listen to their MP3 player while they drive,” Hall notes. “Ford Sync helps them perform these tasks safer.”
LaHood insists that “Until we have some good data on some of these systems, which we’re studying right now, we can’t really say for certain”. GM responded to this by saying they already have such data, and there is no evidence that hands free devices were linked to accidents while driving.