NTSB seeks full ban on cell phone use while driving image

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday to ban all American drivers from using portable electronic devices — including cell phones, even if you use a hands-free device.

The agency said it is recommending that drivers be allowed to use their phones for emergency purposes.

“Too many people are texting, talking and driving at the same time,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a hearing in Washington today. “It’s time to put a stop to distraction. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”

The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.

The board made the recommendation in connection with a deadly highway pileup in Missouri in 2010. The board said the initial collision in the accident near Gray Summit, Mo., was caused by the inattention of a 19 year-old-pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the crash.

“According to [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration], more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,”she said. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”