Proposal to Ban Cell Phones While Driving Gets Cool Reception in Some States

By: - December 16, 2011 12:00 am

The National Transportation Safety Board was unanimous when it recommended this week that states ban drivers from talking on cell phones while driving. The states themselves, however, aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to implement the proposal.

“You know the NRA saying that if they want my gun they’ll pry it from my cold dead hands? That’s what I think about banning cellphones and driving,” the chairman of the Florida Senate Transportation Committee, Jack Latvala, told the St. Petersburg Times . “Absolutely no chance.”

Latvala underscored his point by talking to the newspaper on his cellphone while driving.

The NTSB made the recommendation – its most sweeping one ever concerning the use of personal electronic devices while driving- on Tuesday (December 13). It doing so, it fully expected political blowblack. “It’s going to be very unpopular with some people,” Deborah Hersman, the NTSB chairwoman, said .

“We’re not here to win a popularity contest. We’re here to do the right thing. This is a difficult recommendation, but it’s the right recommendation and it’s time.”

But many state officials and newspaper editorial boards do not agree that the time has come. They argue that more data is needed before such a broad recommendation is adopted, noting that the NTSB recommendation was made after studying a deadly 2010 accident in Missouri caused by a teenager who was reading text messages while driving.

“We’re at a loss as to understand how these bureaucrats took results that showed how texting factored into an accident and saw the need for a nationwide ban on cellphone use,” The Denver Post wrote in an editorial this week .

Some state and local officials, meanwhile, are simply suspicious of federal government involvement in what they see as local affairs.

“I would equate it … to seat belt legislation or motorcycle helmet use,” the police chief of Merrimack, New Hampshire, told The Union Leader of Manchester . “I think those things are better served being addressed by state legislatures rather than being addressed by the federal government.”

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