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NTSB’s New Year’s Resolution: Eliminate Distractions

by  on  News & Resources

As cell phones become even more essential to our everyday lives, the potential for use has increased to fit the needs of such tech-savvy individuals. A person can stay in constant communication while traveling by sharing pictures and messages from virtually anywhere. But with the increasing use of cell phones on the go, drivers have become more prone to distraction either by checking their messages, answering calls or even taking selfies while behind the wheel.

To combat this, states have been cracking down on drivers who talk on their phones and text while driving. Now, the push to eliminate device distraction has made it to the top of the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) to-do list.

This year, the NTSB named prevention of distracted and impaired driving as the most wanted improvement for transportation safety. Citing portable electronic devices (PEDs) as a “real threat” out on the road, the NTSB is hoping to change the way drivers use their PEDs to promote safer driving.

The NTSB does not perform investigations into every highway accident but the data from the ones they have investigated is troubling. Since 2003, drivers using their phones or other electronic devices have caused accidents that have resulted in 50 deaths and nearly 260 injuries. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has collected data on accidents from 2012 and notes hundreds of people were killed as a result of distracted driving.

Hands-Free Does Not Mean Risk-Free

Hands-free devices have often been cited as a method for eliminating PED distraction, personal injury attorneys say. Drivers can connect their phones to their cars or utilize a headset using Bluetooth technology to avoid taking their hands off the wheel to make calls or hold the phone. But this hands-off approach does not necessarily make a driver more focused, the NTSB says. In tests, the Board found that a driver using a headset to hold a phone conversation was just as distracted as a driver holding the phone throughout the call.

Two years ago, the NTSB called for a ban on all PED use while driving, including hands-free devices, but so far, no states have banned hands-free devices. In many states, texting and driving is illegal and some states even ban hand-held cell phone usage. In their wish list this year, the NTSB highlights the importance of continuing to limit PED use in all forms.

Not Just Cars

PED distraction dangers are not limited only to cars. Just this month, the NTSB released the findings of a federal investigation into a plane crash outside of Denver in May 2014 that killed the pilot and another man. Images from a GoPro camera mounted to the plane’s windshield showed the pilot and several of the passengers were taking selfies on their cell phones during several short flights before the accident, and the NTSB report indicates that the high level of distraction contributed significantly to the loss of control.

Distracted driving of any kind is a serious threat across the country, and at Levine Law, our personal injury attorneys hope that the NTSB’s inclusion of this risk on its Wish List for elimination will spur lawmakers and everyone else into action to stop using PEDs behind the wheels. If you have been injured in an accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Denver auto accident lawyer Jordan Levine at Levine Law today.