DDSA Calls For Nationwide Ban on Hand-Held Texting While Driving But Opposes Bans on Technology
WASHINGTON, D.C, Dec. 14, 2011 – The Distracted Driving Safety Alliance (DDSA) General Counsel Marc-Anthony Signorino issued the following statement commenting on the National Traffic Safety Board’s (NTSB) recommendation for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving.
The NTSB’s recommendation to ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices for all drivers will unnecessarily harm interstate commerce, technology manufacturers, and consumers writ large. While the events that led to the Gray Summit, Missouri collision on August 5, 2010 are tragic, the NTSB’s recommendations are overbroad in scope and overreaching in application as we attempt to address the problem of making our nation’s roads a safer driving environment for all Americans.
The DDSA encourages lawmakers to address the bad behaviors that lead to distracted driving, such as cellphone use without a hands-free device and texting. We also encourage the use of technology solutions to make the driving experience safer, such as software applications that lock-out texting abilities while driving or speech-recognition systems that reduce driver distraction. However, a nationwide ban on the use of technology is not the answer, as it would not only preclude innovative safer driving solutions, but it would create inordinate hardships for businesses, workers and parents who need to stay connected.
A far better approach to the problem is Congress’ efforts to reduce distracted driving as seen in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Reauthorization bill, currently in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. By offering grants to states that enact and enforce reasonable prohibitions on texting and driving, as well as prohibitions on youth use of cell phones while driving, the bill focuses on addressing the unsafe behaviors that put all drivers at risk. We also applaud the use of grants to promote teen traffic safety programs and the reasonable prohibition on electronic visual entertainment screens in the driver’s view.
Government, industry and consumers all share a responsibility to curb distracted driving in a manner that stops bad behavior without impeding innovation. Educating drivers – both novice and veteran alike – is a key element to having drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving and accept the responsibility of reducing all distracting behaviors while behind the wheel, whether it be eating, texting, operating a radio, talking with friends, dealing with the children, or making a call without using a hands-free device.
We look forward to working with the NTSB, the Department of Transportation and Congress to ensure that the right combination of regulations and consumer-oriented principles are adopted to help spur innovative technologies that can help make our roads a safer place for all Americans.
For more information, contact Anne DiGiulio (202) 464-4000