Congress helped create what would eventually be the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 1926 with passage of the Air Commerce Act. Initially, the NTSB investigated the cause of aircraft accidents. In time, Congress combined various transportation agencies which were created by the Act into the Department of Transportation (DOT). In turn, the DOT established the NTSB as an independent agency within the DOT that would promote safety within the broad framework of national transportation. Today, NTSB is viewed as an independent United States Federal Government Agency.
As part of its duties, the NTSB issues safety recommendations related to transportation safety in the United States, including the roadways of America. On December 13, 2011, the NTSB issued a historic news release following a board meeting on that same day in which it proposed a complete nationwide ban on drivers using portable electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle. However, the ban is not a law.
This is the first time in the history of the NTSB that it has ever issued a countrywide ban on these devices and such recommendation will be persuasive to the decision makers across the land. A synopsis of the ban can be found here. In a nutshell, the recommendation bans all PED use (other than those designed to support the driving task), requires the National Highway Traffic Administration to aid in high visibility enforcement of this ban and design communication campaigns to inform motorists of the dangers.
The press release cited a statistic from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that noted more than 3,000 individuals died in distraction-related accidents, including the use of PEDs . The chairwoman, Deborah Hersman, stated that “No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life.” Additionally, the release cited several instances where use of a PED caused damage and/or the loss of life, including situations where a barge operator ran over a small water craft due to cell phone/computer distractions; a tractor trailer that veered off the road and into the path of a 15-person passenger van (causing 11 fatalities) due to cell phone distraction; two airline pilots that overshot their destination by more than 100 miles due to use of personal laptops and a railway engineer who collided into a freight train as he was texting and ran a red signal killing 25 and injuring dozens.
It is clear from these examples that PED use causes distractions over a wide swath of different modes of transportation throughout the United States. The one commonality is such distractions lead to catastrophic damage and death. What is even clearer is that the use of cell phones, a type of PED, has grown in NTSB’s words, “exponentially” and that worldwide use of such device has increased to 77 percent of the world population. Further, the press release claims that the percentage is even higher in the United States.
From these statistics, it is easy to see why PED use in the operation of a motor vehicle will continue to lead to future damages, injuries and death. It is frightening to think that drivers of tractor trailers and trucks are operating on the roads of this nation while distracted by cell phones or laptops. Like other motorized vehicles, the operator a truck may be forced throughout the day to make split second decisions and evasive maneuvers. Likewise, an innocent car motorist on the same road may very well have to make the same decisions when faced with a distracted truck driver.
In my personal injury blog, I have previously covered the use of cell phones by individual and pro athlete alike causing injury to Georgians and the reaction of some Georgia counties to rectify these incidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent use of PED or cell phone by a driver of a motor vehicle, then please contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help navigate you through the legal maze to help you recover for your injuries.
The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting car collision cases throughout Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the negligence of a negligent driver, then please contact us today for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.