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Federal Group Wants To Ban All Phone Use While Driving

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Almost everyone has used a cell phone while driving but now a federal agency wants to ban all cell phones, even if you use a hands-free device.

Adam May has more on the sweeping proposal.

This recommendation is the result of growing evidence that cell phones are more than distracting—they can be deadly.

The investigation into a chain reaction crash in Missouri that left one student and one adult dead revealed that the at-fault driver was texting behind the wheel.

“This is becoming the new DUI, it’s an epidemic,” said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB member.

Now the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a strict recommendation, urging a total ban on all cell phone use by drivers: no texting or talking.

“It’s about changing attitudes and changing the level of acceptance,” said Debbie Hersman.

“I just think it’s a huge step forward,” said Russell Hurd, Harford County father.

Hurd sits next to a Christmas tree decorated with some of his daughter’s favorite ornaments. She was killed by a texting driver.

“She was traveling with her finance to meet her mom and I at wedding planner and she was struck at a traffic light by a tractor trailer and killed instantly,” Hurd said.

In Maryland, texting behind the wheel or using a handheld cell phone is already illegal with fines up to $100.

“We certainly are happy with laws in Maryland, particularly the texting law,” said Ragina Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic.

But AAA Mid-Atlantic says a broader 100 percent cell phone ban goes too far.

“The recommendation by the NTSB is something that, from our experience has not been met by much public or legislative support,” Averella said.

But with more and more crashes blamed on distracted driving, the Hurds plan to lobby for the change.

“We’re just hoping to save another family with the pain that is everlasting because we’ll live with this the rest of our lives,” Hurd said.

The NTSB recommendations are not binding. It’s up to state and federal lawmakers to pass the laws.

A recent survey finds one in five drivers text behind the wheel. It’s even more common among drivers younger than 24.

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