Distracted driving

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recently announced a ban for commercial motor vehicle drivers using hand-held mobile phones and push-to-talk cellphones while driving. The ban, effective Jan. 3, is an effort to help curb fatalities resulting from distracted driving.

The National Transportation Safety Board also announced recently its recommendation that states ban all driver use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies. The new ban affecting commercial drivers allowed for the use of hands-free devices. However, he NTSB recommendation suggested that these devices also be banned for drivers.

The issue of distracted driving has gained more attention since a deadly accident in Gray Summit, Mo., last year. A 19-year-old pickup driver, who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes before the crash, was, according to NTSB, at fault for the initial accident.

The debate on cellphone use while driving brings out strong opinions. Our weekly poll question asks readers about their reaction to the suggested NTSB ban. To vote or comment on this issue, go to semissourian.com/polls.

Distracted driving is a concern. Whether a specific ban should be implemented is debatable. However, what is not debatable is that anyone behind the wheel must make driving their No. 1 priority.

Drive safely.

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