distracted drivingA nationwide ban on driver use of portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle got a legislative hearing this week, with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vice Chairman Christopher Hart testifyng before the New York State Senate.

"In the last decade, the NTSB has identified the use of a portable electronic device as a factor in the probable cause of eight accidents and incidents across all transportation modes," Hart told the senate Committee on Transportation. "Forty-six people died and 181 were injured in these events.

"In light of this and the growing penetration of portable electronic devices in the United States, the NTSB is concerned and believes that now
is the time to act to preserve safety for everyone on our roadways."

The NTSB proposed the ban following a December, review of a 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Missouri that was attributed to distracted driving. Following the meeting, Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said; "It's time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving."                      

The NTSB said it "has noted distracted operations in its aviation, rail, highway, and marine accident investigations for almost 10 years, and distraction has been a continuously growing concern. Before issuing the recommendation, the NTSB carefully considered accident statistics and research on the issue of distracted driving. While the specific statistics and findings may differ among studies, the ultimate conclusion is the same: talking or texting while driving-even on a hands-free device-distracts the driver from the driving task, increasing the risk of an accident.