LaHood: No Restrictions on Hands-Free…Yet

To try and decrease distracted driving, many states have outlawed the use of hand-held devices while driving and automakers have begun rolling out hands-free entertainment systems in their cars. Now, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that depending on data, there could be restrictions on the hands-free systems, too.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun researching to whether or not these types of systems pose a “cognitive distraction” to drivers, causing them to take their minds off of the road even with their hands still on the wheel. LaHood says that a ruling on whether or not these systems will be banned after NHTSA finishes its investigation.

Distracted driving has been a strong talking point for LaHood this year. He has repeated noted that in 2009 alone 5500 people died because of distracted driving. Many states are in agreement with LaHood on the dangers of distracted driving: 30 states have some kind of ban against hand-held devices or texting behind the wheel.

NHTSA has worked with Consumer Union – the publisher of Consumer Reports – to publish information of the dangers of distracted driving. Some of the preliminary research of the joint effort has found that 63 percent of people under 30 years old reported using a handheld phone while driving in the past month, 30 percent of which also admitted to texting behind the wheel as well. For drivers over 30 years of age, only 41 percent drove and used a phone, with a paltry nine percent texting while driving.

Consumer Union president Jim Guest noted, “It only takes a moment of distraction to cause a tragedy. No text or call is worth a life.”

Do you think that there should be a ban on hands-free systems, or do you think that limiting “cognitive distractions” is going too far? Let us know in the comments.

Source: The Detroit News

Nor Jones
Any device that requires the driver to take eyes from road or mind out of the car should be baned. If diver is using such device officer should be required to confiscate and/or impound the car. Harsh, yes, but my life is more important than your pleasure. This would include not only phones, but navigation, etc.
The Detroit News article does not say the DOT will institute a ban on the devices after it finishes its investgation. It might be able to ban the installation of systems such as Sync -- which automakers would fiercely fight -- but it could not ban cell phone use behind the wheel. Like with drunk driving, all it could do is urge states to do so by withholding road funds. But in-car cell use is far more prevalent than drunk driving ever was. It won't be so easy to get states to fall in line.

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