NTSB Bid to Ban All Phone Use in Cars Is 'Overkill'
Why can't drivers use hand-free sets?
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2011 12:41 PM CST
The NTSB doesn't want anyone talking or texting on a phone while driving.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The NTSB's proposal for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones while driving, even of the hands-free variety, "is impractical, it's overkill, and it doesn't make sense," writes Sascha Segan at PC Magazine. Authorities can and should come down hard on anyone caught texting while driving or even just talking on a hand-held device while behind the wheel, he writes. But banning "absolutely hands-free conversations" via Bluetooth headsets or the like is where things get muddy.

The NTSB's logic seems skewed: It's not OK with headsets but thinks devices built into the car such as On-Star or Ford's Sync are fine? We can take practical steps to curb dangerous driving through police traps and smarter apps, but "a ban on all conversations just goes too far." Need an opposing view? Dutch Mandel at AutoWeek thinks the NTSB official who proposed these rules should be canonized. "It's about damn time someone in a position of authority stood up and said, 'Enough!'"

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Dec 15, 2011 6:13 PM CST
Hands-free sets aren't the answer, although I think hatchling1 has an intriguing idea, the insurance industry monitoring method is interesting - the problem with it is those drivers who will ignore it & end up sending out 11 text messages before they cause a multiple fatality pile-up that ends up also killing the formerly texting driver who caused the whole thing (at that point insurance company publicity or their refusal to pay on the catastrophe is moot to the dead driver who caused the accident). I'm fairly certain the NTSB solution is the best one. It would be nice if all drivers would merely follow laws and not text or use a cellphone while driving, and would simply pull off the roadway while using a cell or texting. The problem is, people routinely ignore the laws & I see people constantly driving with one hand on the wheel while paying attention to a cellphone they are messaging into if they aren't holding it up to their head to speak into it. For those of you who think using a hands-free set is a solution to this problem, I posted a message on this same forum yesterday where I made the analogy between texting/talking on a cellphone and juggling 2 balls on one hand while simultaneously trying to fly an airplane or drive a car (imo it's the same level of complexity and distraction and involves the same level of focused concentration to juggle 2 balls on one hand while driving or texting/talking on a cellphone while driving). The other analogy I was thinking about when I posted that message yesterday is would you go to a neuro-surgeon who told you he was able to do brain surgery while juggling 2 balls on his left hand at the same time he was operating on patients? (scary just to think about, yes?) At the time I posted the question about would you fly on an airline with a captain in the cockpit who made a practice of juggling 2 balls on one hand all the time he flew the 747 I was thinking the neuro-surgeon/juggler example was just too extreme, that doctors would be crazy to text or allow themselves to be distracted by cellphones during surgery, so I didn't post the analogy. But apparently I was wrong about doctors being sober enough to prevent themselves falling under the sway of these things, if you think hands-free sets are the 'answer' the NTSB has overlooked, think again, apparenly there are surgeons accidentally (partially) paralyzing patients during surgery these days because they are letting themselves be distracted by the kinds of handheld communication devices the NTSB wants banned from use by automobile drivers (the surgeon who partially paralyzed his patient was wearing a hands-free set btw) : www.newser.com/story/135490/scary-new-problem-distracted-doctoring.html Just when you thought things couldn't get any scarier :-(
Dec 15, 2011 7:04 AM CST
I have a suggestion... instead of overly extreme legislation, maybe insurance companies should publicize that they'll refuse to pay any accident benefits to drivers who were texting or talking on a cellphone at the time of the crash. It's pretty easy these days to check phone records.
Dec 14, 2011 7:40 PM CST
If people will USE hands-free sets fine but most won't. A good friend of mine was almost killed in a head on collision with a woman on her cell phone. She somehow managed to fly across 3 lanes of traffic and hit him head-on at 50 mph in the oncoming lane.That was two years ago and he not only has physical and mental problems his business was devestated because he wasn't able to run it putting 30 people on unemployment. He has legal problems because her insurance company won't pay his medical bills because they're more than her policy is worth so it's all in the hands of lawyers now. All because SHE couldn't hang up the phone while she was behind the wheel. Yeah I'm for a ban big time.