Shut up and drive! It's time to admit that any phone use behind wheel is stupid
We're coming up on three years since I posted the first news article on this blog (Jan. 12, 2009) on a topic that has become dear to my heart: Calling for a ban on ALL use of a phone or other electronic device while driving a car. Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board joined the chorus and recommended a ban.
Three years ago, it was the National Safety Council, a private-sector group that mostly concerns itself with workplace safety, that cited its own research and that of the AAA motor club and called for making it illegal to text, e-mail or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel. Not just with a hands-free phone but with any phone, the council said. The reason: Talking on the phone while driving winds up being just as distracting as beng drunk, and it has lead to thousands of traffic fatalities over the years. Argue about it, and add comments here if you wish, but the facts are what they are. While outlawing texting while driving makes sense to most people, we're still arguing about all phone usage.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined the crusade against distracted driving within a few months of the safety council, calling first for banning use of hand-held devices and starting an education campaign about the dangers. I'm surprised he and DOT haven't gotten a little more credit for that in today's news stories. The real significance of the NTSB action is that the agency is one of the more thoughtful, careful research groups you can find. When it makes a call, it's based on solid evidence. It's time to stop debating this issue and do the right thing.