Don't phone and drive, says Obama's NTSB

By Richi Jennings (@richi ) - December 14, 2011.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants you to stop using your phone while driving. Completely. Not even with a Borg-style, hands-free earpiece. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers weigh the pros and cons.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Make your own Star Wars Snowflake decorations...

    Stephen Lawson reports:

The board's proposal goes beyond laws already in place in many states. ... It would cover all drivers of personal as well as commercial vehicles. ... In making the recommendation...the NTSB took aim at driver distractions. ... Its investigations show that even hands-free calls have distracted drivers enough to cause serious accidents.


The proposal would make an exception for electronics that assist in the driving process, such as GPS...and for emergency calls.


CTIA...said it supported bans on manual texting and deferred to...lawmakers and citizens to determine the best laws for the areas where they live.   

    Maya Jackson Randall adds:

Hands-free devices, which are designed to let drivers keep both hands on the wheel...would be prohibited as well under the guidelines. ... [NTSB] investigations show that distractions are becoming more common in contributing to accidents.


Although it might seem that hands-free devices would be safer...the Department of Transportation has said research shows that drivers are still distracted by the phone conversation itself.   

But Marguerite Reardon ain't so sure:

While there has been an impose stricter bans on the use of cell phones while driving, there are now new reports that indicate previous studies...may have been overstated.


[A] study from Wayne State University...Detroit has found that two previous studies that have shown a high correlation between cell phone use...and car accidents might have overestimated the risk.


[And] overall traffic related deaths appear to be declining. ... [The] Department of Transportation released a report that shows highway 2010 fell to the lowest level since 1949, even as Americans drove more and...use more technology.   

Matt Hamblen opines:

[It's] too late to affect [these] kind of changes. ... [It's] at least six years after many states began debating laws in this area...the laws...only came after plenty of lobbying, consternation and often years of consideration.


Americans seem to have forgotten that states have control over laws for education and use of public roads and many other areas. ... Congress can't impose [such laws] based on our Constitution, which recognizes the power of each state.   

Kyle Wingfield calls the idea "wrong-headed":

[If] I see you texting while driving near me, you are liable to hear the sound of my car’s horn. But...bans on texting while driving have been ineffective...because it’s difficult to catch a motorist doing it.


So, dialing a cellphone should be illegal, but entering an address [into] the GPS...should not be? Does that make sense?


When officials start playing fast and loose with statistics...I get suspicious.


Unenforceable, arbitrary, over-reaching...regulations like this...will make some people feel good. ... But that’s all they will accomplish.   

   And Finally...
Make your own Star Wars Snowflake decorations

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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