The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) thinks states should prohibit drivers from operating all electronic devices - save navigation systems - while driving.
"Too many people are texting, talking and driving at the same time," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a hearing. "It's time to put a stop to distraction. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life," reports Bloomberg.
While the NTSB can recommend a cell phone driving ban to combat distracted driving accidents, such recommendations are not binding. It is up to the individual states to enact traffic laws.
The Governors Highway Safety Association notes that 9 states, D.C., and the Virgin Islands prohibit handheld cell phone use while driving, while 30 states and D.C. prohibit novice drivers from all cell phone use while driving. No state has enacted a blanket cell phone driving ban.
California, which already prohibits handheld cell phone use while driving, has some of the strictest laws regulating cell phone use in cars, so the NTSB recommendation could be bad news for lawyers who rely on their hands-free devices to get out of the office at a reasonable hour. Though the call of the client should never trump the call to safety, here are a few of the problems that a cell phone driving ban will present for attorneys:
- Many lawyers have already spent money on integrated, hands-free Bluetooth systems for their cars that allow them to take calls without taking their eyes off the road.
- Hands-free phone calls allow lawyers to work from the road, which means that those with lengthy commutes can sleep longer, leave home later, and leave the office earlier while still meeting their clients' needs. That extra sleep matters; drowsy drivers cause thousands of accidents annually, according to the National Traffic Highway and Safety Administration.
- Lawyers are not known as patient creatures. How many lawyers who get stuck in traffic on their way to the office for an important call will speed, weave, and drive dangerously to make up lost time?
Do you think the California legislature will take up the NTSB's proposed cell phone driving ban, or is the legislature populated with too many lawyers who rely on their phones during their commutes?
- NTSB: Cell Phones Should Not Be Used While Driving (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Better Than Black Friday: California Amnesty for Traffic Tickets (FindLaw's California Case Law blog)
- Ban Cell Phone Driving: National Safety Council Calls for Ban on All Cell Phone Use While Driving (FindLaw's Common Law)