The National Safety Council (NSC) is pushing for a ban on all cell phone use while driving, saying it is dangerous and leads to fatalities.
Hands-free devices should also be included in the ban, says the group. Studies have found they are not any safer while operating a vehicle.
“Talking and driving is as deadly as drinking and driving,” said Janet Froetscher, the group’s president. “Cell phone users are four times more likely to be in an accident.”
Six states - California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington — and the District of Columbia ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But, no state currently bans all cell phone use while driving.
And seventeen states prohibit or ban cell phone use by teen drivers.
The council analyzed more than fifty scientific studies before making its decision. One study, by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimates cell phone use while driving accounts for 6 percent of automobile crashes or 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths in the U.S. every year.
Of 270 million cell phone users in the United States, 80 percent of them talk on their mobile phones while driving.
“When you're talking on a mobile phone, even if both hands are on the steering wheel, your head is in the call, and not on the road,” Froetscher said.
Since 2003 The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been urging states to ban cell phone use or hand-hands free devices by inexperienced drivers who have learner’s permits. The council is the first national safety group to call for a total cell phone ban for all drivers.
In 2008, 23 states considered some form of legislation to restrict the use of cell phones or wireless devices, according to the board.
25 countries have cell phone driving laws that restrict or ban hand-held cell phones in calls including Brazil, Australia, Chile, Denmark Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Singapore, S. Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey, among others.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety both agree that cell phone use while driving is indeed dangerous, but that it will be tough to enforce a ban.
In a federal lawsuit filed on December 1, Public Citizen claims that records showing the connection of driver cell phone use and traffic fatalities are being withheld from the public.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court of Washington, DC, on behalf of the Center for Auto Safety asks the court to order the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to release records – including a study that estimates traffic deaths attributable to cell phone use. #