NTSB Recommends Nationwide Ban On Mobile Device Use While Driving

If the National Transportation Safety Board has their way, talking (or texting, or tweeting) on the phone while driving would be a thing of the past. The regulatory body recommended today that use of any handheld device while driving a car should be banned nationwide.

The recommendation came about while the NTSB board discussed a tragic multi-vehicle motoring accident in Gray Summit, Missouri that began when a driver using a cell phone crashed into the back of a tractor trailer.

Several states have already enacted “distracted driving” laws that deal with what consumers can and can’t do while behind the wheel, but the NTSB’s preferred course of action would extend even farther than states have dared to go. The board’s recommendation doesn’t just stop at mobile devices — hands-free devices would also be banned as well.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said of the decision that it was difficult, but “it’s the right recommendation and it’s time.”

Now, the NTSB is purely an investigative body, and doesn’t have the legal authority to enforce such a ban. Even so, when the NTSB speaks, people tend to listen (as evidenced by all play this story has gotten). It wouldn’t surprise me at all if some enterprising congressman has already started drafting a bill that mirrors the NTSB’s sentiments, although how far it would ever get is highly questionable.

Still, one can’t help but wonder what would happen if a nationwide ban ever became a reality. With hands-free kits no longer allowed, wireless accessory companies like Jabra and Plantronics would see a considerable portion of their markets disappear. In-car phone connectivity is becoming more common as the model years wear on, so would that too be subject to the ban? The nebulous wording of the recommendation mentions that exceptions would be made for devices “designed to support the driving task,” which leaves plenty of room to argue the and pros and cons of each pertinent technology.