NTSB Calls Texting While Driving the “New DUI”

Cell phone related auto accidents have been steadily increasing over the past few years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for example, reports that there were 3,092 traffic fatalities due to distracted driving in the year 2010 alone. With such high accident rates, cell phone use—particularly texting while driving—is being largely regarded as an epidemic in America, one which requires immediate attention.

On Tuesday December 13, 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) took the fight against distracted driving to a new level when it pressed state legislators to begin efforts which would ban all cellular phone use among all drivers.

This urging for cell phone bans is nothing new for the NTSB. In fact, we recently blogged about the board’s push for cell phone bans among commercial truck drivers subsequent to a catastrophic accident which caused the deaths of more than ten people in Munford, Kentucky. More recently, an accident involving four vehicles, resulting in two death and 38 injuries, has given the NTSB cause to urge a ban for all non-emergency cell phone use among drivers.

The NTSB does not possess the authority to turn their ban into law. Regardless, the board’s recommendation is bringing the issue of distracted driving to the foreground of debates among legislators. Much of the conversation is centered on the NTSB’s call for bans on not only hand-held cell phones but hands-free cell phones as well.

Robert Sumwalt, a member of the NTSB, has been widely quoted with calling distracted driving “the new DUI.” This might seem an exaggeration to some, but the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that use of any cell phone device extends a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent. So, to call distracted driving the new DUI seems appropriate.

If you would like to get involved in the movement against distracted driving, please visit the Teens Against Distracted Driving (TADD) website. TADD is an organization dedicated to making roads safer for drivers by raising awareness regarding the dangers of distracted driving.

For more information on texting while driving, and for suggestions on how to remedy the problem, please see the article “How to Prevent Your Kids from Texting While Driving,” which can be found on the Carpey Law website.