BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Safety on the road. The NTSB releases a list of most wanted safety improvements for 2016. Disconnecting with deadly distractions is one of them.
Derek Valcourt explains what the government wants to do.
They believe it would help save lives if they ban all people from using even hands-free cell phone devices in cars.
When a train collided with a truck in Rosedale in 2013, the resulting explosion damaged nearby businesses and homes.
Investigators pointed the blame at the truck’s driver, saying he was distracted talking on a hands-free phone.
The NTSB wants hands-free phones banned, saying drivers may not be taking their hands off the wheel or even their eyes off the roads, but they may be taking their minds off driving.
“Current laws that ban handheld, but not hands-free use can foster a belief that hands free devices are safely used while driving,” said Christopher Hart, NTSB chairman.
“Anything that takes your mind or your eyes off the road while you’re driving is extremely dangerous,” said Susan Yum, safe driving advocate.
Yum’s son Jake was killed by a distracted driver in 2011. Her advocacy helped spur tougher distracted driving laws in Maryland in her son’s name.
“When you’re driving a car, you should be doing nothing other than that,” said Yum.
While no states have banned the use of hands-free cell phones, some states have put limits on who can use them.
Twenty states and D.C. ban bus drivers from using any cell phones — even hands-free — and new drivers in Maryland, D.C. and 37 other states are forbidden from using any cell phones.
Drivers we talked to were divided on a hands-free ban.
“No, it ain’t OK to ban it,” said Joe Nowick.
“None of that’s really getting my eye off the road or anything. That’s the reason why they made hands-free,” said Aris McGowans.
“I think it’s a good idea to have no phones at all in the car,” said Crystal Entzian.
“If it saves lives, it’s great,” said Joseph McKenze.
The hands-free ban is just a recommendation from the NTSB. It’s not formally being proposed anywhere.
They also want to mandate that car manufacturers include safety features, like automatic braking, on all new cars.
Bans on handheld cell phone use while driving are under consideration in several more states this year, including Massachusetts, Iowa and Tennessee.