If there’s any lingering question as to why cell phones and driving should never be used in combination, the picture above should clear it up pretty quick.
Between the bus and the big rig is what’s left of a pickup, which was being driven by a 19-year-old kid. Just prior to slamming into the semi, the young driver had sent or received 11 text messages in as many minutes. Just after the collision, two school busses joined the chain reaction, killing a 15-year-old student. The texting driver also died. Two tragic losses that defy rationalization.
You’ve probably seen the images from last August’s crash and read the story already, but it’s a powerful reminder of the dangers phones create for everyone on the road. To prevent accidents like this and future deaths, should cell-phone use be banned outright for drivers across the United States? One government body thinks so.
Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a nationwide ban on any use of a mobile phone while driving. That includes talking, texting and even hands-free operation.
While the NTSB can’t actually make that law, it can use its influence to persuade lawmakers to pass a bill making any non-emergency phone use illegal. In addition to that, the group doesn’t want drivers using any electronic or Internet-connected device in the car. That presents a challenge to consumers and automakers, since many Internet-enabled infotainment systems are starting to come embedded into vehicles. And what about GPS?
As things stand now, mobile phone bans are the responsibility of the states. Thirty-five states currently ban texting while driving, and just 10 outlaw any mobile phone use.
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said, “This (distracted driving) is becoming the new DUI. It’s becoming epidemic.”
He’s right. Drivers are so addicted to connectivity that they risk their lives, and the lives of others, just to indulge in the brief “high” of sending or receiving a text.
A nationwide ban wouldn’t likely do much to curb the use of phones while driving, but maybe it would at least create awareness of the problem. No more kids should die because of texting. Illegal or not, my phone will be off from now on while I’m driving. I hope you’ll join me.
Will you turn your phone off while driving a car?