It’s scarcely been a week since the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board advocated for a full ban on mobile phones and portable electronic devices in cars, but it doesn’t look like that recommendation will go very far: it didn’t get a seal of approval from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood according to The Detroit News today.
The saga of distracted driving has been going for some time now: Secretary LaHood has long taken a strong stance against it, working with manufacturers to limit the amount of information our cars can bombard us with while driving, and advocating for the use of hands-free equipment…or putting our phones down altogether.
But the most surprising move came from the NTSB last week, when it voted unanimously to recommend banning portable device use in cars, which would exclude GPS navigation but would essentially ban phone calls, even those that use Bluetooth connectivity. Perplexingly, the recommendation reportedly didn’t include phone calls made with OnStar, which operates like Bluetooth hands-free systems but uses the car’s head unit as a separate phone.
But the recommendation didn’t exactly pass muster with LaHood, who told The Detroit News that “the problem is not hands-free.” Instead he called for a continued crack-down on texting while driving, which has been proven to be even more dangerous than handheld cell phone usage. At last count, 35 out of 50 states have banned texting while driving, and nine ban handheld cell phone usage altogether.
With LaHood focusing on other things, it looks like the NTSB recommendation–which would have had to pass through LaHood’s agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be ratified–won’t go anywhere. We’d admonish Bluetooth fans to keep their fingers crossed, but we’d also recommend keeping those fingers squarely on the steering wheel.
Source: The Detroit News