NTSB Proposes Nationwide Cell Phone Ban to Help Prevent Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Illinois and Elsewhere

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a groundbreaking proposal this week for all states to prohibit the use of cell phones by drivers, according to My Fox Chicago.

The recommendation was presented at a recent meeting to discuss a severe distraction-related accident that happened in Gray Summit, Missouri in 2010 where two people were killed and another dozen were injured. Officials have determined that the driver that allegedly caused the accident was sending and receiving text messages just seconds before the accident. Nearly 3,100 people were killed in distraction-related car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere throughout 2010. Officials believe that this new measure could help to significantly reduce these numbers.
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“A combination of enforceable state laws, high visibility enforcement and supporting communication campaigns can reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers distracted by the use of portable electronic devices,” wrote the NTSB.

Our Chicago car accident attorneys understand that that in state of Illinois, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from talking on a cell phone while driving. All drivers are banned from text messaging at the wheel in the state, according to the Governor Highway Safety Association. Drivers in Chicago are banned from using cell phones while driving. These laws were implemented to help to reduce the number of distraction-related car accidents throughout the state. Still, too few follow the rules and many visitors are oblivious.

A nationwide rule would also help law enforcement; officers report current laws often make it difficult to tell whether a driver is texting (illegal) or dialing a phone (often legal).

“This recommendation by NTSB is a national call to action to end distracted driving due to cell phone use. This is a growing public safety threat that needs to be addressed by legislators, employers and every person who operates a motor vehicle on our nation’s roadways,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council (NSC).

The NTSB also urges cell phone manufacturers to take steps to help reduce the usage of cell phones by drivers “by developing features that discourage their use” or features that can at least limit the ability of users to operate their devices while the vehicle is in motion. The proposal would not affect the use of these devices by passengers.

After the meeting regarding the Gray Summit accident, the NTSB suggested that all states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of all types of cell phones for drivers. The Board also suggests that states use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) model of high-visibility enforcement efforts to push these new laws. Lastly, the NTSB suggests that states launch communication campaigns to help spread the word about the new law and about the enforcement of it. These campaigns should also be accompanied by information regarding the risks and dangers that are associated with the use of portable electronic devices, especially cell phones, by drivers.

“This (distracted driving) is becoming the new DUI. It’s becoming epidemic,” said NTSB member Robert Sumwalt.

If you, a family member or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

NTSB recommends full ban on use of cell phones while driving, by Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
More Blog Entries:

USDOT’s “OMG” PSAs to Curb Distraction-Related Teen Car Accidents in Chicago, Nation, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, December 13, 2011
“Faces of Distracted Driving” Campaign to Reduce Risks of Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere during Busy Holiday Season, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, December 16, 2011