The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is asking all 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban cell phone use while driving. This would include both conversations and texting.
The request comes on the heels of a board meeting about a multi-vehicle accident on a Missouri highway. Two people were killed and 38 others injured in the accident, which occurred last year. The investigation by the NTSB found that the crash began with the driver of a pickup truck running into the back of an 18 wheeler. The pickup driver had sent 11 text messages in the 11 minutes just before the crash. The final text was sent a moment before the crash. After rear ending the 18 wheeler, the pickup truck was hit from behind by a school bus, and another school bus ran into the first bus.
In their announcement of the new recommendations, the NTSB listed a number of cell phone related crashes that they have investigated. Among them was the 2002 crash by a novice driver in Maryland , which killed five people. The driver was speaking on a cell phone at the time. Another was a bus accident in 2004 in which the driver was talking through his hands-free cell phone and did not move the bus into the proper lane for the height of the bus. 11 high school students were injured in that accident. The announcement also listed a variety of other accidents related to other forms of transportation.
On the same day the NTSB is making these recommendations, Reuters has published the results of a study which suggests that previous studies overestimated the risk of driving while talking on a cell phone.
The study was done by researchers at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and was published in the journal Epidemiology and dated November 11, 2011. The researchers analyzed the cell phone billing records of drivers involved in a crash, comparing their cell phone use during the time of the crash with their cell phone use and driving the previous day. The prior day time frame gave the researchers a “control window.” Based on this and other data they collected, they claim that cell phone use while driving played in in significant role in the cause of the crash. Previous studies indicated the risk of crash was quadrupled with the driver was using a cell phone.