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"No call. No text. No update. Is worth a human life" -- NTSB Chmn. Hersman

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This afternoon The Washington Post and CNN report NTSB is about to recommend a ban on all driver held mobile communications devices. The Post quotes NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman as saying,

“According to [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration], more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,”she said. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”


The NTSB’s recommendations urge all 50 states and the District ”to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other tha
n those designed to support the driving task).”

Here is the recommendation from the NTSB site:

To the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

(1) Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers; (2) use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high visibility enforcement to support these bans; and (3) implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement, and to warn them of the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving



Readers are reminded of a previous post here entitled “CTIA Mum on NTSB Cellphone in Truck Recommendation”. Shortly after that post
we heard from CTIA:

Actually, we did have a statement. Here is a statement to attribute to John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA--The Wireless Association:

 "Accidents that involve any of the numerous driving distractions are unfortunate, and those resulting in loss of life are tragic. The wireless industry has been educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving for more than a decade, and does not oppose legislation that restricts the use of wireless communication by drivers."

 
At the time of the blog post a search of the CTIA website for "NTSB" gave no hits at all. It still gives no hits.
Mr. Walls' quote is not available on either the CTIA blog or under press releases. Indeed, a search for the words in the statement had not hits on the CTIA site strongly implying it was not publicly available.

So we welcome this statement that the industry "does not oppose legislation that restricts the use of wireless communication by drivers". However the current CTIA position statement on safe driving does not have Mr. Walls’ general concept of nonopposition to driver restrictions - it only deals with manual texting and “younger drivers”. Let’s hope that CTIA continues to move away from opposing safety-related restrictions and even actually supports the new NTSB recommendation.


CTIA’s Steve Largent issued the following statement:

“CTIA and the wireless industry agree that when drivers are behind the wheel, safety should be their number one priority. Manual texting while driving is clearly incompatible with safety, which is why we have historically supported a ban on texting while driving. As far as talking on wireless devices while driving, we defer to state and local lawmakers and their constituents as to what they believe are the most appropriate laws where they live.

“The wireless industry remains focused on educating consumers about their responsibilities when they’re driving, especially inexperienced drivers. We’re proud of our partnership with the National Safety Council that focuses on teens and novice drivers that tells them ‘On the Road, Off the Phone.’ As part of the partnership, we developed a TV and two radio public service announcements (PSAs) that have been viewed and heard by millions.

“In regards to NTSB’s recommendation number 12, we have always encouraged the industry to continue to develop new technology-based tools and offerings that are affordable and consumer-friendly that would create safer driving. The industry constantly produces new products and services, including those that can disable the driver’s mobile device.

“We remain dedicated to educating all consumers to ensure when they are behind the wheel, safety is their top priority.”


This is the first time CTIA has ever mentioned NTSB on their website.



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Statements of NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman

Opening Statement December 13, 2011 Highway Accident Report: Multi-Vehicle Collision Gray Summit, Missouri, August 5, 2010

Closing Statement

Washington Post op-ed “Why we should ban drivers from using portable electronic devices” 12/16/11

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