Safety & Accident

NTSB Recommends Nationwide Ban on Driver Use of Portable Electronic Devices

December 13, 2011

WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation to the 50 states, and D.C., to ban driver use of all portable electronic devices in a vehicle, including hands-free devices. The NTSB’s Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman addressed the press regarding the issue and some of the specifics about the recommendation.

"According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents," said Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

Hersman said the exceptions to this rule would be devices that assist the driver in getting to a destination and for use in emergency situations.

She said that this recommendation would also apply to communications technologies such as Bluetooth, but that the NTSB is not proving a list of “acceptable” devices for use in vehicles by drivers. The organization is leaving development of actual laws, and enforcement, up to the individual states.

“Our recommendation is to the states that pass and enforce the laws,” Hersman said. “We’re not looking at passengers being able to text and talk; we’re looking at the safe operation of the vehicle by the driver. And yes, that applies to Bluetooth and hands-free technology.”

In terms of enforcing such a ban, Hersman said she is confident law enforcement will be able to develop methods for doing so.

“Law enforcement is talented. They can recognize impaired drivers. They also can recognize when drivers are distracted,” Hersman said. “Our law enforcement agencies deal with aggressive driving. I know they will be able to come up with ways to enforce these rules.”

She said the NTSB is also calling for more aggressive efforts by law enforcement to enforce such a ban.

In addition, Hersman called on companies to help enforce distracted driving rules as well and said that NTSB research had found that bans on driver use of electronic devices while the vehicle is moving had improved their safety records.

Hersman said the NTSB has issued recommendations to cell phone manufacturers to develop additional ways to prevent portable device use by drivers. She also said she believes technology can help provide a solution to this problem.

Regarding communication technologies built into vehicles by the automakers, Hersman said that although the organization’s recommendation is only directed at states currently, the NTSB plans to look into the issue of rules regarding those technologies at an event next year.

This announcement follows an NTSB call for a ban on use of mobile phones by commercial drivers.

By Greg Basich


  1. 1. Steve Beckmann [ December 13, 2011 @ 12:52PM ]

    Another BIG BROTHER move. I hate to see good people getting caught by the bad drivers, but let the idiots thin the herd. Laws like this only keep the government in big money.

  2. 2. Douglas Denlinger [ December 13, 2011 @ 01:11PM ]

    Did we forget the words "we the people"? Hold on and I will get it from my phone

  3. 3. E. Sweeney [ December 13, 2011 @ 01:14PM ]

    This is a bit bizarre, on the heels of an AF story posted earlier today about 2010 traffic fatalities lowest 1949. Do these two agencies communicate with each other? Just an idea.


  4. 4. M.K. [ December 13, 2011 @ 01:20PM ]

    Not another law! It's time that humans take responsiblity for there improper actions - get a conscious. Don't text and drive and if you can't walk and chew gum most likely you shouldn't talk on the phone while driving. Teach by example. Don't be selfish think of others. Life is too precious.

  5. 5. Tony Cooperr [ December 13, 2011 @ 01:44PM ]

    This could be easily done by having cell phones moving faaster than a certain mph (maybe 15 mph discussion purpose) to be automatically disabled except for calling emergency numbers (911 etc). The technology is there to do it. Too bad for passengers loss of use but the 3,000 persons killed would most likely endorse this method

  6. 6. Steve Kibler [ December 13, 2011 @ 01:55PM ]

    All you anti-big brother people quit your whinning. This law will mean all the Prius drivers will simply have to watch the road and drive like the rest of us. I vote for Tony's suggestion; cell phones won't work if moving faster than a person can walk - Oh wait, doesn't the NTSB have jurisdiction over pedestrians too. So what's wrong with natural selection any way...

  7. 7. Bill Malcolm [ December 13, 2011 @ 05:36PM ]

    Once again...unintended consequences of government intervention. Don't know about Ms. Hersman, but has she not observed law enforcement officers in and around the D.C. area or a "Cops" program on television using cell phones as a part of their jobs. I doubt if all of their cell phone conversations would be considered emergencies exempting this from a law.
    The problem is not the use of the cell phone but the user of the cell phone who is responsible for its use. "Distracted" driving has a much broader definition than just cell phones. Does this mean you can't speak with your passengers while in the vehicle is in motion? Isn't this distracted driving? What about the old fashioned Motorola radio still in use by businesses.
    I feel the hands free requirement is the the most viable alternative when it comes to lawmakers intervening for the safety of all.

  8. 8. Howard Marcus [ December 13, 2011 @ 06:44PM ]

    The problem is not the use of cell phones in vehicles it's the lack of public knowledge that you are breaking the law if you don't use a handsfree device. Better enforcement is neccessary. I constantly see people everyday holding there phones. I have been selling cell phone mounting devices for years but still feel there acceptance is low since most people feel they don't need them. A mounted phone and a bluetooth kit is a very safe and non distracting alternative. Having law enforcement exempt from hands free laws is ridiculaous. I don't know how may police cars are involved in distracted driving incidents, but it sets a poor example for the rest of the public.

  9. 9. Donttwd [ December 15, 2011 @ 02:18PM ]

    I completely agree with the recommendation of the NTSB. Technology is the problem and technology can solve the problem. Teens are losing their lives from distracted driving with mobile phones. Cellcontrol can stop cell phone use while driving. With Cellcontrol ( parents have the ability to set rules on what a phone can and cannot do when a car is moving. Texting and driving is eliminated. Cellcontrol is the worlds most advanced technology to solve this problem utilizing a signal directly from your vehicle to determine movement ensures you are only blocked in YOUR vehicle(s) not while a passenger in another vehicle like GPS based solutions. This technology will save lives!

  10. 10. sue [ December 19, 2011 @ 01:37PM ]

    Because all humans are prone to err, we can all potentially kill someone while using technology on the road. I am as bad a culprit as others using my hand-held device while driving and I fully aware that it could be a fatal to myself or others, so I have cut back significantly. Laws need to keep pace with advances in technology as we alone will not always use our best judgement. Seatbelts were a great idea due to changes in auto technology which allowed us to drive faster. However, we weren't necessarily using them until laws forced us to, and we all eccept it an excellent prevention to injury "IF" we or someone else lapses in judgement while driving.


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