I'm a texter, and I'm not proud of it. There's new evidence to suggest that we should all wait to answer our phones until we've pulled into a parking spot.
The National Transportation Safety Board has asked states to "put the brakes on distracted driving," and it will be interesting to see if more construction companies adopt policies banning the use of cell phones and other portable devices while their employees are driving vehicles or operating equipment.
NTSB also asks to restrict common carriers, and many states aleady have cell-phone and texting laws on the books, but this recommendation could push more legislators to crack down on this troublesome trend.
The NTSB's recommendation stems from a construction work-zone pileup in Gray Summit, Mo. A pickup truck driver merged behind a heavy-duty tractor, which had slowed to enter a work zone, and struck the larger truck's backside. Two school buses piled on top of the pickup, which flipped on top of the tractor.
Construction workers could have been killed but weren't. However, two people involved in the crash died and more than 30 people were injured. The pickup truck driver had sent and received 11 texts immediately prior to the accident, records show.
What flies in the face of NTSB's recommendation is mixed research on distracted driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that bans on cell phones and texting don't really make a difference in accident prevention.
On the other hand, an earlier study published in the British Medical Journal found no safety advantage in hands-free devices. NTSB is calling for a ban of all such devices—even hands-free ones—while driving.
Now, it's your turn. What's your view on distracted driving, what's your employer's view, and what do you think should be done about it?