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Will North Carolina ban all drivers from using cell phones?

A new recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) could prompt lawmakers in North Carolina to ban all individuals from using cell phones when operating a vehicle.

After reviewing statistics and reports of accidents caused by distracted drivers, the safety board came to a unanimous decision to make the recommendation that all states ban drivers from using their cell phones or other hand-held and hands-free portable electronic devices. Members of the safety board commented that texting or talking on one's cell phone while driving is becoming just as dangerous as driving drunk. "No call, no text, no update is worth a life," stated the board chairman.

Accidents caused by distracted drivers can set off a chain of events that leave many seriously or fatally injured. For example, two people were killed and 38 others were injured on a Missouri highway last year after a driver who had been texting suddenly rear-ended a tractor-trailer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 individuals were killed last year after being involved in accidents that were caused by distracted drivers. Last week, the NHTSA released the results of a survey indicating that at least one out of every six drivers sends or responds to text messages when behind the wheel.

North Carolina laws already ban all drivers from texting. Only novice drivers and bus drivers are currently prohibited from using hand held and hands-free devices such as cell phones. Nearly 4 million commercial drivers from across the nation are banned from texting when on the job.

CNN reported that the safety board's recommendation would not apply to passengers. Drivers would also be able to use their cell phones to make emergency phone calls.

Source: USA Today, "NTSB: All states should ban cellphone use while driving," Bart Jansen, Dec. 13, 2011

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