NTSB Calls for Ban on Cell Phones While Driving

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The National Transportation Safety Board says distracted driving must stop.

On Tuesday, the federal agency called for states to get tough with their laws and ban all cell phone use, including texting, emailing or chatting while driving.

It's a temptation facing most drivers. The cell phone rings or a sound announces that a text has been received.

Then comes the moment of truth. Do you take your eyes off the road for just a few seconds and respond?

"It's a very serious issues and people need to put their devices down and drive," said Deborah Hersman, the NTSB chairman.

The NTSB even wants to outlaw hands-free devices like Bluetooth.

"We're not here to win a popularity contest," Hersman said. "No email, no text, no update, no call is worth a human life."

Officials estimate that distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people every year and causes more than 600,000 accidents.

Jacy Good lost her parents because of a distracted driver.

"Both of my parents were killed instantly. I wasn't breathing. No one expected I would live past the first 36 hours," she recalled.

For Shelly Forney, it was her 9-year old daughter that was a victim.

"She hit my daughter at 25 miles an hour. Erica hit the windshield and she flipped backwards 15 feet and landed on her neck," Forney said through tears.

A driver takes their eyes off the road for about five seconds when looking at a text. At 55 miles per hour, that means they have driven the length of a football field -- basically blind.

"We know that accidents happen in the blink of an eye. You have to be paying attention all the time. You never know what call, what text or what post could be your last if you're doing it behind the wheel," Hersman explained.

Currently, 35 states and the District of Columbia have laws against texting while driving. Nine states and Washington, D.C., bar hand-held cell phone use. Thirty states ban all cell phone use for beginning drivers. But enforcement is generally not a high priority.

However, the federal government wants all states to ban all cell phone use behind the wheel.

The NTSB doesn't have the power to do it though. That's the job of the individual states.

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Tyler James

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Tyler James writes and produces stories for CBN's daily newscasts and The 700 Club.  He also served as a photographer and field editor during the 2008 presidential race, covering campaign stops, both conventions and election night parties.

Tyler received his Bachelors of Arts in telecommunications with an emphasis on broadcast journalism from Oklahoma Baptist University.