NSTB wants total ban on mobile devices in cars

Article by Anita Panait, on December 20, 2011

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all 50 states ban all use of mobile devices, including hands-free calling or texting, while driving. The proposed measure, which is harsher than the ban on handheld mobile devices currently implemented in many states, is the latest effort to prevent distracted driving.

The NSTB also wants the telecommunications industry to create a system to disable a driver’s phone while a vehicle is on the road. Those affected are carmakers that have developed hands-free technologies that allow a driver to call or text without getting his hands off the wheel.

Ford Motor Co’s Sync and similar in-car technologies by Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, Hyundai and BMW would be surely hit by the proposed restriction. Expect smartphones that offer instrument panel integration for navigation maps to be affected too.

"There are billions of dollars of smartphone development activity that would be thrown out the window," said Roger Lanctot, a technology analyst with Strategy Analytics. The recommendation, however, remains toothless unless a state or an agency adopts it for regulation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has made distracted driving on top of its list, could issue a regulatory action, while Congress could also levy a legislative action.

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