NTSB calls for ban on cell phone use while driving nationwide - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

NTSB calls for ban on cell phone use while driving in all 50 states

(CNN) -- Phone calls and texts could be a thing of the past for drivers, if the National Transportation Safety Board has its way.

It's calling for a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving.

"This is becoming the new DUI," says NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt. "It's becoming an epidemic."

The ban would not apply to emergency calls, but it would mean no hand-sets, no texting, and no bluetooth.

10 states already ban all use of hand-held cell phones, but no state has a complete ban that includes hands-free devices.

"Many times the distraction that is there is not just one that is about manipulation of something or a visual distracting, it's about a cognitive distraction. It's about not being engaged in the task at hand," says NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman.

The NTSB says the ban would be a life-saving measure.

It cited several deadly accidents caused by distracted driving as the reason behind the recommendation.

"Any accident, any crash that occurs is one too many and if we can prevent any those fatalities from occurring that is why we issue our recommendations," says Hersman.

In fact, more than 3,000 people died last year in wrecks involving distracted drivers.

The NTSB lacks the power to impose restrictions, but its judgments carry weight with lawmakers.

For now, it's up to the states to decide whether to adopt the recommendation.

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