As an avid and experienced cellphone user, I was intrigued by the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation to ban all cellphone usage while driving in the United States.
Banning texting while driving makes perfect sense. I have been guilty of texting in the past and know from experience that texting is a major distraction. Try staying in a straight lane while looking down at your phone. It is virtually impossible.
Banning voice messaging using apps such as Dragon Dictation also make sense. Yes, you are no longer typing a message. However, dictation services are not perfect and may misinterpret some words. Proofing a message is necessary. For that, opening the app and sending the message, you need to be looking at your phone.
The issue I have with the NTSB’s proposal is with banning calls while driving.
I am fortunate to have bluetooth in my car which has enabled me to use true hands-free calling. No interaction with my phone is required. The only interaction outside of driving is to wake up the bluetooth device in the car which takes the same amount of time as changing a radio station. From there, I tell the bluetooth I want to make a call, state the name, verify it and wait for the call to connect.
Essentially, I am having a conversation with someone in the car. By banning cellphone calls, the NTSB is essentially banning talking to someone in the passenger or back seats. Seems preposterous, right?
While I recognize not everyone has bluetooth due to cost and age of their vehicle, there are other ways to become hands-free. Those options help minimize the necessary interaction on their phone which in theory, would help create more attentive drivers.
My proposal: ban cellphone calls for drivers who do not have a hands-free option. With that, offer a hands-free option to these drivers. In addition, make bluetooth devices standard in all vehicles sold in the US.
What are your thoughts on the NTSB’s proposal? Share your take in the comments section below.