On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, the National Traffic Safety Board called for a nationwide ban on all cell phone use while driving.  The proposed ban is the most wide sweeping recommendation made by the NTSB to date and would prohibit all non-emergency phone calls and texting. The proposed ban would even extend to the use of hands-free devices unless the device was installed by the vehicle manufacturer. Currently, cell-phone use by drivers is governed by state law with some 35 states banning text messaging while driving and another 10 banning all cell phone use.  None of these state imposed bans apply to the use of hands-free devices.

According to the NTSB, their proposed ban is necessary to combat the danger posed by distracted drivers on the road. A recent study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association states that as many as 13.5 millions drivers are using cell phones at any given moment. The NHTSA study also states that over 3,000 fatalities have been linked to accidents involving distracted drivers in the last year.

Although the NTSB believes that their recommended ban will significantly decrease the number of distracted drivers on the road, it is difficult to comprehend how such a ban would be enforced.  It is one thing to ask law enforcement officers to ticket drivers who are blatantly holding a cell phone to their ear, but it seems almost unreasonable to expect police officers to enforce a ban on the use of hands-free devices.  How will an officer know whether a driver is on the phone as opposed to conversing with a passenger or singing along to their favorite song on the radio?  These are issues that must be taken into consideration before the such a wide-sweeping ban is enacted.

Ian Abvoitz is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Abovitz.