Road Safety: The Government Wants to Ban Cell Phones and Make Collision Avoidance Features Standard
These wishes are part of the NTSB’s most wanted changes for 2016
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently unveiled its 2016 Most Wanted List. A wish list of sorts, it highlights critical legislation and policy changes the organization says would reduce accidents and save lives. It’s based on accident investigations and the safety lessons learned, says NTSB chairman Christopher A. Hart.
This year’s list reflects how technology can play a big role in keeping us safe on the road — and also in distracting us.
For example, the NTSB wants more drivers to “disconnect from deadly distractions.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,179 people died in 2014 in vehicle accidents in which the driver was distracted. The NHTSA says drivers who engage in “visual-manual tasks,” such as dialing or texting, triple their risk of a crash.
According to the NTSB, more and more drivers are surfing the Web behind the wheel in addition to talking and texting. “A 2015 report from State Farm revealed a new staggering trend: nearly 30 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to accessing the Internet while driving. That compares to just 13 percent who admitted to surfing the Web while driving in 2009. “
“It will take a cultural change for drivers to understand that their safety depends on disconnecting from deadly distractions,” the NTSB says.
It's not just average motorists who need to change. So do people who work in regulated transportation, such as airplane pilots, ferry drivers and train operators. “In regulated transportation, the strict rules that already minimize the threat of distraction on paper must be embraced by every operator on every trip.”
Only 14 states and the District of Columbia ban hand-held cellphones while driving, though 44 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving. The NTSB wants a driver ban for all personal electronic devices (PEDs).
It also wants automakers to start making collision avoidance technologies standard features on more vehicles. These technologies include collision warning, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, blind spot detection and advanced lighting technology. Currently they’re mostly available only as optional equipment and often are bundled with non-safety features such as moon roofs, the NTSB says.
“The NTSB believes that not only
should more automakers offer collision avoidance technologies as standard
features in their vehicles, but that consumers should not have to purchase a
luxury option package to get the safety benefits of these technologies,” the
Chairman Hart: the wider availability of collision avoidance technologies can help prevent accidents when humans make mistakes #NTSBmwl— NTSB (@NTSB) January 13, 2016
Related: How to Make Your Next Car Safer
Here’s the complete 2016 Most Wanted List, with links to the NTSB’s statement for each.