Cell phone use while driving is in jeopardy

Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended cell phone use while driving be banned, even for hands-free devices.

Federal regulators feel that any cell phone use behind the wheel is just too dangerous and while the N.T.S.B. does not have the power to impose that kind of restriction, it is urging states to do so.

"This is becoming the new DUI. It's becoming an epidemic," said board member, Robert Sumwalt. "In regarding distractions due to electronic devices if we don't act now how many lives will we lose in the next 30 years. I don't think we can afford to wait an entire generation to change this."

Share the Road Vice President Robyn Willis couldn't agree more.

She says it's an idea that's been a long time coming.

"Well it makes us very hopeful that in some way there will begin a grassroots effort building toward this process of banning cell phone use in cars."

Right now, Share the Road makes appearances at local high schools to encourage students to stop texting and driving, and even put their phones away completely.

"Any type of distraction obviously puts others at risk and so that is not worth another person's life, so we definitely are excited to hear about that and see how things progress."

But the question about banning cell phone use while driving has always been enforceability.

"Without seeing what the way the laws actually going to be written, it's difficult for us to say how you'd even try to enforce something like that. If you see somebody that appears to have a phone up to their ear, and you have to be able to say, it looked like they were talking on a phone, it probably wouldn't be a problem," said Amarillo Police Department Corporal Jerry Neufeld.

Neufeld did say we'd all be better off if all drivers would put down their phones, fast food, and make-up and focus on the road.

Federal accident investigators are recommending states to ban the use of electronic devices, including cell phones, by all drivers except in the case of emergencies.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended the action even though it does not have the power to impose regulations. Its recommendations, however, can carry significant weight with lawmakers.

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According to the Associated Press, the recommendation followed the board's finding of a deadly highway pileup in Missouri back in 2010. The board found the initial collision was caused by the inattention of a 19-year-old pickup driver who was texting while driving. The student reportedly sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes right before the accident.

A 15-year-old student on a school bus was killed along with the pickup driver. Additionally, 38 people were injured.

(The Associated Press contibuted to this report.)