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NTSB Recommends Cell Phone Ban For Drivers

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami.com) – If you’ve driven the savage streets of South Florida, you’ve been behind a driver more focused on their cell phone than on driving. Now, the NTSB wants to put a stop to that.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states should ban the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by all drivers except in the case of an emergency.

Florida lawmakers have tried for several years to pass a text messaging ban, but have failed to do so. Another texting ban has been proposed for the upcoming 2012 legislative session.

“According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,” said NTSB chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices while driving.”

“No call, no text, no update is worth a human life,” Hersman said in conclusion.

The recommendation came on the heels of a finding by the NTSB that a deadly 11 car collision was caused by a 19-year-old driver who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the accident.

The NTSB said that a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found that a “safety-critical” event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet.

Helen Witty knows all too well the consequences of distracted driving. Her daughter was rollerblading when a distracted driver hit and killed her.

“The person who killed my daughter was drunk and stoned and finally she picked up a cell phone to dial,” Helen said.

The NTSB can’t implement a ban, but its recommendations could sway state lawmakers across the country to put stronger bans into place.

The Broward-Dade Safety Council said the distractions drivers face are growing.

“Would you ever consider closing your eyes on 75 for 7.5 seconds while doing 75 miles an hour?” Jose Rada of the BDSC asked. “You wouldn’t do that, because it’s crazy.”

One potential problem for the NTSB ban is that it might involve banning Bluetooth devices. That has at least one South Florida driver upset.

“No, than I don’t agree with that, because you should be able to use a Bluetooth,” Terry Rouse said.

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