Feeds

Feds propose 50-state ban on mobile use while driving

Handheld, hands-free, texting, browsing – it's all deadly

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for a nationwide ban on driving while using what it calls "personal electronic devices" – PEDs – by which they mean mobile phones and, to a lesser extent, fondleslabs.

And when the NTSB says mobile phones, they mean handheld or hands-free, unless the hands-free system is installed by the vehicle's manufacturer.

"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life," said NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman in a statement, noting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that over 3,000 people were killed last year in accidents caused by what has become known as "distracted driving".

"It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving," Hersman said.

In addition to simply banning all nonemergency mobile-device use while driving, the NTSB recommended to the CTIA and the Consumer Electronics Association that they "encourage the development" of features that disable PEDs within reach of the driver while a vehicle is in motion, and that PEDs be able to detect the seating position of passengers so as to allow non-drivers to use them.

The call for an end to all PED use while driving came in report based on an NTSB investigation of an August 5, 2010 accident in Missouri, in which a pickup truck ran into a truck-tractor that had slowed in a construction zone. The pickup was then struck from behind by a school bus, which was plowed into by a second school bus. Two people were killed and 38 were injured.

The NTSB later determined that the 19-year-old driver of the pickup truck had sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes before the accident, and that the final message was received right before the pickup ran into the truck-tractor.

The investigation concluded that the texting was the probable cause of the accident, ruling out weather, drink, drugs, driver inexperience, any mechanical problems with the vehicles involved, highway design, or construction-zone signs or policies.

The report also noted that the pickup truck driver – one of the fatalities – "was fatigued at the time of the accident due to cumulative sleep debt and acute sleep loss, which could have resulted in impaired cognitive processing or other performance decrements." In addition, the driver of the first bus had been distracted by a motorcoach that had pulled to the side of the road, and the driver of the second bus was faulted for following the first bus too closely.

In addition to the 2010 accident under investigation, the NTSB cited a 2002 accident in which a "novice driver" was distracted by her cell phone, flipped her car, and killed five people.

Also noted as examples of incidents in which distracted vehicle operators were at fault were a 2004 motocoach accident that injured 11, a 2008 commuter-train collision that killed 25, a commercial airline overshooting its destination by 100 miles in 2009 because its pilots were distracted by their laptops, a barge running over a boat in 2010 and killing two, and a tractor-trailer jumping the median in 2010, striking a van, and killing 11.

In support of their recommendations, the NTBS cited a 2009 study of commercial drivers by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which reported that a "a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet."

"The data is clear; the time to act is now," Hersman said. "How many more lives will be lost before we, as a society, change our attitudes about the deadliness of distractions?"

Currently, US bans on the use of mobile devices while driving are in force in several states, with varying rules for all drivers, novice drivers, and school bus drivers. Various states have various rules for texting while driving, or using hands-free cell phones.

The NTSB now recommends that complete mobile-phone bans be extended to all 50 states – but don't hold your breath.

But do keep an eye out for that texting twit in the next lane. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.