The Epidemic of Driver Distraction and its Effects on Crashes

On Tuesday, December 13th, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the first ever nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving. If approved, this would include the use of cell phones and text messaging from all devices while driving.

Although different states have certain cell phone laws prohibiting handheld devices for all age groups and banning novice drivers from using cell phones, the NTSB is seeking to further limit the use of these portable electronic devices.

If their recommendation is adopted by states, it would outlaw text messaging and non-emergency phone calls for all drivers nationwide. The NTSB is also asking for hands-free devices to be outlawed, except for the ones installed in the vehicle by the manufacturer.

So, what grounds does the NTSB have to recommend such a strong law to go into effect in Florida and throughout the nation?

With the explosion of smart phones and the ever increasing popularity of the iPhone, it seems as if everyone has a cell phone these days that they are glued to. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during any point of the day there are around 13.5 million drivers using hand-held phones. Sadly, this problem led to approximately 3,092 traffic accident deaths last year involving distracted drivers. Ultimately, NHTSA thinks the numbers are actually higher than reported.

Although Florida doesn’t have a full cell phone ban, distracted driving is still a huge problem throughout the state and has led to many South Florida auto accidents. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt says that “this (distracted driving) is becoming the new DUI. It’s becoming epidemic.”

When a driver is focused on something else, taking their attention off the road and putting it on a text message or phone conversation, there can be serious, life-changing consequences for that driver. If that driver gets into a Florida car crash, he may get injured or kill someone else due to his negligent actions.