December 13, 2011

U.S. Safety Board Urges Cellphone Ban for Drivers


A federal traffic safety agency is recommending that states prohibit all drivers from using cellphones, for talking or texting.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday that it had voted to recommend the ban on the use of mobile devices by drivers, citing what it said were the risks of distracted driving.

The recommended ban applies to hands-free devices, a recommendation that goes further than any state law to date. The agency said it is recommending that drivers be allowed to use their phones for emergency purposes.

“No call, no text, no update is worth a human life,” said Deborah A. P. Hersman, chairman of the N.T.S.B., an independent federal agency that is responsible for promoting traffic safety and investigating accidents and their causes. It will be up to the states to decide whether they want to follow the agency’s recommendation.

She said the decision was a hard one because such a ban would be unpopular among some people. But she said its time had come, given what she said were growing distractions in the car and the spread of increasingly powerful mobile devices.

“This is a difficult recommendation, but it’s the right recommendation and it’s time,” she said.