This week the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency “charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families” called for a ban on “the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers.” In other words, no hand held or hand’s free cell phone calls, texting, or email checking while you are driving.
Why? Because, according to the NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman, "No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."
The NTSB recommendation grew out of a grisly August 2010 multi-vehicle crash involving two school buses, a truck-tractor and pickup truck. The agency's investigation found that the driver of the pickup, who was killed in the crash, had sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes leading up to the accident, with the final text received just moments before the driver plowed into the back of the truck-tractor that had slowed down in a construction zone, causing a pile-up. Two people died and 38 were injured. The NTSB determined that the “probable cause” of the collision “was distraction, likely due to a text messaging conversation being conducted by the GMC pickup driver.”
The NTSB press release also calls attention to the sometimes-deadly consequences of distracted driving, including distraction from wireless electronic devices. According to a 2010 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 60% of all adults have “talked on a cell phone while driving” and almost 30% had “sent or read a text message while driving.” These statistics are not without consequences—16% of all traffic fatalities in the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System are attributable to distracted driving. Studies have also shown that texting while driving caused an estimated 16,000 deaths from 2001-2007 and that driving while on the phone increased risk of a crash by four times.