Thursday, July 23, 2009
California made headlines when it began enforcing legislation that enacted pricey fines for those caught talking without hands free headsets or texting on their cell phone while driving. The provision and similar ones across the country seem reasonable, considering that some studies found cell phones to impair driving more than even commonly abused drugs like alcohol or marijuana. Many drivers in California did the seemingly logical thing — switch to hand-free headsets. However, some research indicated that even conversations on hands-free headsets can still be distracting and dangerous.
Now an unprecedented suggestion by the U.S. Highway Safety Administration has been revealed — ban all cell phones on U.S. streets. The suggestion was actually first made in 2002, but has only now been revealed, thanks to The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen, which filed a lawsuit to obtain documents from the agency under the Freedom of Information Act.
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The NHTSA draft on cell phone policy states, “We recommend that drivers not use these devices when driving, except in an emergency. Moreover, we are convinced that legislation forbidding the use of handheld cell phones while driving may not be effective in improving highway safety since it will not address the problem. In fact, such legislation may erroneously imply that hands-free phones are safe to use while driving.”
The agency’s request was reportedly shared with state traffic departments and select lawmakers, but was kept from even the majority of national lawmakers. The agency feared that both members of Congress and the public would be upset at the report.
This article was posted: Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 9:19 am