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NTSB Wants Nationwide Ban on Cell Phones While Driving

Hands-free phone systems built into vehicles, like MyFord Touch, could be banned from use by the driver under the new proposal.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants to ban drivers from using personal electronic devices behind the wheel. The NTSB voted unanimously today for the proposed ban, which includes all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. “No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman says in a statement.

Only emergency phone calls will be allowed, and texting, phone calls and Internet usage will all be banned under the new proposal. Passengers will be able to use their personal devices, but the driver won’t. The NTSB cites several fatal vehicle accidents that were caused by distracted drivers using electronic devices in its proposal.

“Nine states and the District require drivers to use hands-free devices, although several recent authoritative studies have concluded that use of hands-free equipment does not make drivers any less distracted than they might be if the phone were pressed to their ear,” The Washington Post reports.

The Detroit News says the NTSB’s proposal, which includes Bluetooth hands-free systems built into vehicles, will affect car makers, who put these systems into many of their new vehicles as standard or optional equipment. “Automakers have spent billions to equip cars with technology for hands-free calling.”

“The sweeping proposal goes far beyond what any state currently prohibits. NTSB would like states to bar all drivers from making hands-free calls for any reason — including picking up a relative at an airport,” The Detroit News reports.

Though the NTSB wants the ban to be nationwide, each individual state and the District of Columbia would make its own decision on whether or not to ban the use of personal electronic devices behind the wheel, The Washington Post reports.

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