Tuesday, the NTSB called for this complete ban:
“Federal officials on Tuesday called for a nationwide ban on the use of personal electronic devices while driving—including talking on the phone, as well as sending and reading text messages.
The recommendation, from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), came out of a board meeting intended to evaluate an August 2010 multi-vehicle accident in Missouri caused by a distracted driver.
"More than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving."
"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life," she said.” - http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2011/gray_summit_mo/index.html
The above link leads to an accident report. It’s worth reading.
“As a result of this accident sequence, the driver of the GMC pickup and one passenger seated in the rear of the lead school bus were killed. A total of 35 passengers from both buses, the 2 bus drivers, and the driver of the Volvo tractor received injuries ranging from minor to serious.” – ibid
The bottom line is that these devices are used by careless, unthinking fools while driving or operating machines which by their nature (size, weight, speed, etc.) can magnify the results of distraction.
That’s not even counting such geniuses as Alec Baldwin and his “game” which couldn’t be interrupted by something as trivial as an airplane full of other people taking off at a busy airport. How many could he (and others) chalk up every year with their nonsense?
I’m not crazy about regulations. They limit one. They also depend on voluntary compliance. People (adults) should be able to control themselves and comply. The sad fact is that "should” and “reality” is so incredibly far apart that this is a case where that the “freedom” to comply or not should be taken away.
Why do regulators even think such a “freedom” does or should exist? What these users, wait… abusers is doing kills and maims themselves and others (and also drives up insurance rates so we all pay for it).
No one has the “freedom/right/entitlement” to take another life or maim another except in well circumscribed circumstances. SMS messaging, phone calls and “tunes” just don’t figure in those cases.
These devices should have an automatic “suspend” feature activated by motion (and turned off by stopping) which could only be overcome by appropriate authorities to relay emergency messages such as “Area X: Disaster in progress, take cover.”
What about an “emergency” message from a child in danger to his/her parent? The phone/device should have an “emergency button” for such an instance, and should go to the police and activate a GPS “marker”. Any misuse prank should cost both the parent and child.
I believe that (as usual) the abusers lack of consideration of others has reached a level with such lethal results that “choice” (which honestly doesn’t really exist in such situations for normal adults) needs to be taken away. Any tampering with such limitations should carry penalties like tampering with smoke detectors, or perhaps sterner.
Enough is enough; in fact, too much and too dear.