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NTSB calls for ban on personal electronic devices while driving

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Dec. 14, 2011—The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday called for a ban on the use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) while drivers are operating a motor vehicle.

The NTSB’s announcement was made following its board meeting on 2010 multi-vehicle highway accidents, held in Gray Summit, Mo.

The safety recommendation specifically calls for all 50 U.S. states to ban the nonemergency use of PEDs for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (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 NTSB said there has been exponential growth in the use of cell phones and PEDs over the last 20 years. Globally, there are 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers—77 percent of the world population. That percentage is even higher in the U.S., according to the NTSB.

A study of commercial drivers conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the NTSB said, found that a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely to occur if a driver is texting, emailing or accessing the Internet.

"According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,” said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the NTSB. "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."

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