Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an agency within the Department of Transportation, called for “the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle.” The move has some conservative critics wondering whether the recommendation goes too far.
The agency’s vote was in response to an investigation of a multi-vehicle accident in 2010 NTSB determined was caused by bus driver distracted by texting while driving. The school bus ran into the back of a slowed pickup truck, and was hit from behind by a school bus. Two people died, and 38 more were injured.
“According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,” said Chairman Deborah Hersman. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”
“No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life,” she said.
“It is beyond doubt that distracted driving on American roads is a serious problem that costs many lives each year,” said Ryan Radia, Associate Director of Technology Studies at Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Radia pointed out that the ban might have the opposite of the intended effect — increased automobile accidents.
“It is far from clear, however, that state laws banning the use of cell phones while driving actually help mitigate the distracted driving problem,” said Radia. “Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published a study that concluded that state texting bans might actually increase automobile accidents. Previous studies by various researchers have reached similar conclusions.”
Another critic, LessGovernment president Seton Motley, said the NTSB’s vote represents “another wing of the Barack Obama Administration blatantly ignoring federalism and the Constitutional rule of law — and illegally jamming through more nanny-state Leftist policy preferences.”
The NTSB’s own website says that while it carries no legal authority, its “effectiveness” depends on the agency’s reputation as a trustworthy organization.
“The Obama Administration has driven the economy into the ditch — they have no business telling me how to drive my car,” said Motley.