NTSB Looks to Ban Hands-Free Calls, Transportation Secretary LaHood Isn't Supporting It
December 22, 2011 9:24 AM
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
LaHood is more concerned with banning hand-held calls
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) may be pushing for a ban on hands-free calls while driving, but Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood isn't backing it.
NTSB called for the ban
of all types of in-car electronics in all U.S. states last week, including hands-free calls involving a portable device. While 35 U.S. states have banned texting while driving, and another nine have banned hand-held cell phone use, no one has taken the issue as far as banning hands-free calls yet.
LaHood has made it clear that he's not on the same page as the NTSB when it comes to hands-free calls. Instead, he's more concerned with banning hand-held calls, which he believes is a greater distraction while driving.
"The problem is not hands-free," said LaHood. "That is not the big problem in America.
"Anyone that wants to join
the chorus against distracted driving
, welcome aboard. If other people want to work on hands-free, so be it."
LaHood has obtained support from automakers like Chrysler and Ford in his pursuit to eliminate driving distractions, i.e. hand-held calls. This has brought forth hands-free auto systems like
, which allows users to make calls without holding their cell phone.
As expected, automakers are not happy with the NTSB's efforts to ban hands-free calls. Many said hands-free calling systems were made specifically to prevent distracted driving.
LaHood said he wouldn't back a ban on hands-free calls unless research provided a strong conclusion that it contributed to car accidents and other forms of distracted driving. NTSB chairwoman Debbie Hersman argued that hands-free is just as distracting and that several "high-profile crashes" occurred as a result of hands-free use.
"According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents," said Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."
The Detroit News
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