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US safety group calls for ban on mobile use while driving

15 Nov 2012

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling on lawmakers to ban the use of personal electronic devices by car and lorry drivers.

The NTSB listed driver distractions as one of its "most wanted" priorities for 2013, suggesting that laws should be put in place to keep drivers from endangering lives due to distractions from mobile phones and other electronic devices.

The commission cited a number of incidents in recent years in which crashes and near-crashes have occurred when drivers were viewing phones and notebooks while on the job. The NTSB is recommending that use of such devices should be illegal unless deemed necessary for the job.

"Portable electronic devices that do not directly support the task at hand have no place in vehicles, planes, trains, and vessels," the NTSB said.

"States and regulators can set the proper tone by banning the nonessential use of such devices in transportation."

Electronics manufacturers bristled at the suggestion that banning devices outright was needed to prevent distractions.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) said that while it supports laws against texting and other distracted driving measures, laws which would ban the use of portable electronics in transit would be too heavy-handed.

"Unfortunately, in today’s update to its ‘Most Wanted List,’ the NTSB misses the mark on the use of portable electronics in the vehicle," the CEA said.

"By calling for an ‘abstinence-only’ approach, the NTSB ignores established realities of human behaviour, as well as the fact that in-vehicle technology — when used correctly — can make for vastly safer roadways."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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