The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all states ban the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by all drivers, except in emergencies. Jennifer Parsons, with the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says a cell phone ban for motorists would greatly improve driving conditions on highways and interstates.
“The less distraction while driving is safer for everybody on the road,” Parsons said. Currently, just nine states prohibit all drivers from using a handheld phone while driving. Iowa is one of 35 states that prohibit texting while driving.
Parsons says distracted drivers, including those using cell phones, caused a lot of accidents in Iowa last year. “In 2010, there were 659 crashes attributed to distracted driving,” Parsons said. “There were 284 injuries in those crashes.” Those figures were down 13.4% compared to 2009 – prior to Iowa’s ban on texting and driving.
Nationally, around 20% of the injury crashes reported in 2009 involved distracted drivers. Nearly 1,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2009 involved a distracted driver who was using a cell phone. The NTSB recommendation follows an investigation into a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year.
Authorities said the crash was caused by the inattention of a 19-year-old-pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in 11 minutes immediately before the accident. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on a school bus were killed. Thirty-eight other people were injured.