NTSB forum discusses distracting electronic devices

March 28, 2012

Washington – The National Transportation Safety Board hosted a forum on March 27 to discuss distracted driving research, policies and enforcement.

Researchers and policymakers talked about countermeasures that would address dangerous inattentive driving behaviors, such as bans on handheld and hands-free cell phones. Among other points discussed during the forum:

  • Adult passengers have a protective effect on a driver rather than a distracting one because they can help scan for roadway hazards.
  • Hands-free cell phone use can be just as distracting as handheld use because the speaker on the other end does not alter conversation dynamics based on driving conditions the way a passenger could.
  • Teen passengers do not have a protective effect on a driver; instead, they cause the most distraction to other teen drivers.

Commenting on whether jurisdictions will readily adopt laws related to these findings, Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) called it “a political issue” and said states and lawmakers are not ready to pass laws and increase enforcement.