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Editorial: Don’t ban cellphones in vehicles — yet

This news story was published on December 18, 2011.
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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

A federal recommendation that use of hand-held devices by motorists be banned makes sense — up to a point. Texting or surfing the Internet while driving are extremely dangerous.

But the National Transportation Safety Board also urged bans on any use of hands-free and hands-held cellphones in vehicles except — inexplicably — phone devices installed in some new vehicles by manufacturers.

Those restrictions at this point would generate strong resistance from the public and be difficult to enforce.

The safety board’s recommendation arose from the investigation of a gruesome August crash near Gray Summit, Mo. In the 13 minutes preceding the wreck, a 19-year-old motorist sent or received 11 text messages while driving on Interstate 44. He crashed into the rear of a slowing tractor-trailer, triggering a chain reaction that killed him and a 15-year-old girl on a school bus.

Last year, 3,092 people died in crashes involving distractions.

But that came amid an overall drop in fatalities: In 2010, highway deaths hit their lowest point in more than 60 years, even though the 46 million miles traveled was higher than in 2009.

Politically, it would be tough to impose a blanket restriction on devices used by so many people even while highway travel, overall, is safer. But distracted driving is an increasing problem, and there are steps lawmakers in our region should take.

Some states have already moved in the direction of tougher restrictions. California bans all use of hand-held phones. The federal safety board can’t compel states to pass laws, but it has done a service in jump-starting this debate. In view of the findings, states should do more to further reduce the rate of fatalities.

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5 Responses to Editorial: Don’t ban cellphones in vehicles — yet

  1. Avatar

    Howie Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    My whole issue is where will the line be drawn. In the name of safety, we can all lose our freedoms to do pretty much everything. Today cell phones, eventually,car radios, as technology improves, we will lose our right to drive as computers will do it better. There are too many unenforceable laws that are selectively enforced now…when will it end.

  2. Avatar

    TheRealFred Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I don’t want them banned. But there are just too many idiots. I see them constantly with their chins on their chests “secretly” texting away with a phone in their laps.
    Others yapping and paying no attention to turn lanes, oncoming traffic, etc.

  3. Avatar

    Joe Public Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    How would a cop with a laptop computer mounted on his dash keep a straight face while writing a ticket for a lessor device?

  4. Avatar

    Patriot Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    I drive alot for work each day, we are having more close calls then ever with people talking on cell phones and driving amongst other things while driving. Only a matter of time before I’ve done everything I can and one of these distracted people literally drive into our truck.

    They don’t have the good sense not to do it, so now another law has to be passed so that law enforcement can ticket them an make the roads a bit safer.

  5. Avatar

    Ron Jamison Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Of course cell phones should be banned from use in cars. Do you not see these idiots driving around not paying attention, chattering away? For god’s sake, ban this before any one else is killed.