Forgetting about (or oblivious to) iPhone 4S’s Siri, NTSB advises U.S. States to ban all driver use of mobile phones

“The National Transportation Safety Board voted 5-0 to recommend that states ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic device while driving except for emergencies,” Eric Savitz reports for Forbes.

“The recommendation applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones, going well beyond existing state laws,” Savitz reports. “‘Manufacturers and providers of portable electronic devices known to be frequently used while driving should reduce the potential of these devices to distract drivers by developing features that discourage their use or that limit their non-driving- or non emergency-related functionality while a vehicle is in operation,’ the NTSB said.”

Savitz reports, “The NTSB does not have the power to actually impose a ban on driver use of mobile phones, but the unanimous recommendation could sway the states to toughen current distracted driver laws, which in many states bar the use of hand-held devices while driving, but which do not go so far as to ban the use of phones on a hands-free basis.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Siri.

Someone get some iPhone 4S units over to the NTSB, get them up-to-date (for a change) and show them why we and millions of others haven’t touched our iPhone 4S units to text, email or for many other uses while driving or otherwise since October 14, 2011.

Ban the lesser cell phones of the world outright, who cares, but obviously, Apple Siri-powered devices should be exempted. Plus, there’s no way to enforce a ban of iPhone 4S use while driving unless you’re going to attempt and fail to prohibit drivers from simply talking.

Apple wins again – and, since the release of iPhone 4S with Siri, is very likely saving lives each and every day.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David E.” for the heads up.]

120 Comments

  1. While I agree and love Siri. The NTSB was saying that ANY cell phone use, not just texting is distracting. Just picking up your cellphone or looking at it causes enough distraction that it could be detrimental. But so would the radio or anything else you might have in the car. What we really need is a siri iCar. My wife says it all the time, I wish Apple made a Car.

      1. BANISH onStar also ok — good idea – RIGHT?

        IF so, then we need to BANISH all electronic devices too… YEAH ?
        like GPS devices and DVD players in the back seat for the kids because thats a distraction too. No one should be able to touch even in the passengers side a cellphone for fear it will distract from driving.

        Why not FINE every driver who even TOUCHES his/her cup of COFFEE while we think this through.

        UP here in COLD CANADA LAND — it is already illegal to TOUCH any portable electronic DEVICE… including my BLUETOOTH ear device.

        STUPID to me… this ruling BUT thats the law,
        SEEMS to me SIRI is the ONLY exception to HAVE SET.
        APPLE has the BEST phone and the RIGHT technology at the RIGTH time.

        AGREED – if the PEOPLE fight for LAWS and SET the way of the LAND we can FIGHT for OUR rights.

        AFTERALL – is talking is going to be BANISHED then so should SINGING and LISTENING TO MUSIC.

        Oh hell – back to my hibernation.

        1. All drivers and passengers should have their mouths duct-taped in order to prevent distractions such as talking, drinking, eating and singing. Such activities are known to be highly dangerous and have caused many unintended accidents on the road. This measures would please the NTSB and they can claim an Oscar for preventing millions of potential deaths.

      2. The whole issue of cell phone caused distraction is the result of a study, which indicated that 3,000 people are killed on our highways each year, due to cell phone using drivers.

        What’s nuts about this is that given the total number of miles driven each year, 3,000 is a pittance. While each death is a tragedy, this is going way overboard in trying to protect everybody from any kind of injury.

        Next on the ban list is cup holders, ashtrays, cigarette lighters, GPS, radios, CD players and passengers.

        1. That’s happening in the UK, where it’s illegal to take a drink of water, unwrap a candy, or touch a cell phone while driving. People have gotten tickets just for taking a drink while stopped at red traffic lights. I’m all for safety, but these measures go far too far.

      3. I agree. I teach Behind the wheel. Even hands free devices are shown to distract when driving. Siri is awesome, but texting through voice is a distraction while driving. The NTSB is right on this one.

    1. Driving while steering is dangerous, driving while braking is dangerous, driving while listening is dangerous, driving while looking is dangerous. You know, as long as you are driving, it is dangerous. It may run over Obama.

      1. Dude, get real. Studies have shown talking to a person in the car is nothing like talking to someone on a phone. The person in the car picks up on clues from the driver and help keep things in check. Learn before you speak.

        Ban em all.

        1. Exactly. People talking on phones are not operating the same level as they do in casual in-car conversation. They are engrossed in work, develop “tunnel vision” (get caught up in imagination), and can hit people while staring blankly right at them. Study after study has proven they can be worse than drunks. Using cells, CB radios or headsets makes NO difference.

          1. Read the article! I don’t know what you are quoting from but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states…
            “Even though connectivity in cars is under the microscope at NHTSA, drunken driving caused more crash fatalities last year than did phone calling and texting distractions.”

            1. … because fewer people spend less time driving while using their phones than driving while drunk? Also, you are limiting the statistics by limiting the severity to “deaths”. I don’t consider a phone-caused fender-bender to be trivial! Perhaps you own multiple (or no?) autos. I don’t.

            2. And how about those idiots who are driving drunk and talking on the phone? 🙂
              I have hands free bluetooth and I have driven past my turns many a time. It never happens when I’m chatting to passengers, or listening to the radio.

    2. Apple car – i do not agree – and it solves nothing in this situation.

      THE SOLUTION is for people to RISE up and claim their rights and point to the law makers WHY SIRI should be exempted from this.

  2. Attempting to ban hands-free operation of a mobile device in a vehicle is just ignorant. Let’s just ban car stereos too while they’re at it. Just another example of more government overreach, but that’s par for the course. The cronies in charge always think they know how you should be living your life better than you do.

    1. You miss the point others are making; listening to stereo is apples to oranges. Mythbusters episode awhile back confirmed phone discussions, even hands free, degrades driving performance. Not saying I agree with a ban on hands free however…

      1. Clearly, you haven’t read the linked article. Distracted driving (specifically, talking on the phone and texting) caused 1 out of 11 deaths in that same statistic. So, yes, clarity and logic are most certainly welcome here.

        So, yes; things have sure gotten dangerous since cell phones started mixing with driving. While the total number of fatalities has dropped (thanks to safer cars with more airbags and energy-absorbing zones), distraction is becoming more and more significant cause of those fatalities.

        1. If you are the type who can be distracted by a hands free conversation while driving, my life experience tells me that you are the type who will be distracted by practically anything including your own thoughts.

          Thats why I run my life on my own experience as opposed to yet another study by a Phd. Lots of them can’t find their car in a parking lot, so……… and I partake in a dangerous activity with rarely a bruise.

        2. So 1 in 11 are due to distracted driving, what are the cause of the other 10 deaths? The article states that nearly 1/3 of the deaths are due to drunk driving, so drunk driving is a much larger problem than the cell phone. Even with these 2 causes of death, it would be interesting to find out what the others are since they amount roughly 60% of all deaths.

        3. So when are we going to outlaw smoking while driving? How about eating or drinking (non-alcoholic) while driving? Putting on make-up? Changing clothes? Shaving? Having sex? The possibilities are endless. Obviously, the only solution is a security camera inside every vehicle, monitored by the TSA. And while we’re at it how about a black box transmitting vehicle data directly to the police so they can mail you speeding tickets?

          Ah! A perfect world at last…for insurance companies. And who else did you think the NTSB was looking out for?

          1. It’s already happening. Alberta just enacted a “distracted driving” law. Eating a burger, putting on make-up, making toast, talking on a hand-held, etc.
            The police have been asked to use discretion and appear to be doing just that.

          2. That’s been the law in the UK for several years now. No eating or drinking anything; no touching cell phones, speed cameras everywhere (including average speed cameras that clock you in one place then clock you again several miles down the road, and work out your average speed over the distance).

        4. TEXTING for sure TAKES the eyes off the ROAD…
          but TEXTING using SIRI should not.

          THE DIFFERENCE should be CLEAR and MADE as an EXCEPTION.

          YET another reason to buy the iPhone4s – hurray apple.

      2. I thought failure to maintain control of a vehicle was already a crime.
        And besides, who can talk on a phone while driving a car with a beer in one hand and a joint on the other?

        Now, if they are going on data, at what point are people under 21 and over 65 disallowed? And racial stereotypes? Cheeseburgers? People with glasses, overweight or low IQ?

        The point is, driving while driving is dangerous. I can no way in Hell figure how talking on a phone is more likely to cause a wreck than a woman putting on her mascara. Where is the data on that?

        1. I have MIND control feature rigged to my iPhone4s.
          AND so I CAN SMOKE a joint with one hand and a bear in the other meanwhile converse on the CELPHONE to navigate through my pre-programmed GPS rigged steering me all the way through traffic. LOL… joke joke joke.

          Weeeeeee !!!!!
          THX GOD 4 the iPHONE4s – car equipped MIND control – now driving is totally safe and NO ONE ever grows old. I mean crashes…

        2. It’s not either or many states have already enacted various distracted driving laws that would include a variety of activities such as putting on makeup as well as texting etc.

    1. Playing devil’s advocate here…

      While that statistic is interesting, that’s only fatalities. How about total number of accidents? I’d bet that the number of fender-benders has gone up since the advent of the mobile phone, and especially with the texting madness.

      Yes, I’m MOST concerned about getting KILLED by the distracted driver next to me (trying to send that text message on their Android phone, which has a virus and is responding slowly)….

      …but I’m also very concerned about simply getting IN an accident with said moron, possibly injured in a non-fatal manner, and at a minimum, having my nice car screwed up by the moron’s lack of attention to driving, and having to deal with the simply cost and/or inconvenience.

      Ban non-handsfree use of mobile phones by the driver.

      1. I forgot one point….MANY factors have contributed to reduced fatalities. Improved car safety equipment, better medical care and equipment, and yes, even the cell phone…by being able to call for help immediately instead of waiting for someone to go for help (which could take a couple of hours back in 1949).

        With all that, the fatality rate might be even lower if it weren’t for people fiddling with their phones WHILE driving (texting and email are the absolute worst).

        My informal survey: Every time I notice someone driving like a moron (swerving erratically, one wheel off the road, driving way too fast or slow), it seems like 8 out of 10 times the person has a phone in their hand.

        1. “Unless of course, you drive a Honda Civic.”

          Aw, bullshit. I just got nailed in the drivers side of my new 2012 Honda Civic EX-L sedan that I only had for two weeks. It’s in the shop now and is going to cost over $10,000 to repair. I was amazed at how well the side airbags protected me. It sounds like the NHTSA changed the way they rate this stuff.

          http://www.insideline.com/honda/civic/2011/2011-honda-civic-gets-two-stars-in-latest-nhtsa-crash-test.html

            1. The other driver was losing control of his car on black ice. Ten cars involved, and my car felt perfectly stable with the traction control, until I was hit and spun ninety degrees. By the way, this new Civic was to replace my ’89 Civic Si, which I luckily still have and am driving again. I hadn’t been involved in a wreck since 1975, and fate just had to wait till I got a new car. But, I’m sure glad I was in the 2012 and not that little ’89. Probably wouldn’t be walking around right now.

    2. What else went on last year that might have contributed to the fall in deaths? Oh yeah, an epic recession! With fewer people working there were few miles logged on US roads. So of course the fatality rate was down. How about looking at the period before the widespread used of mobile devices and after? I would expect the long term trend to be more useful, and likely even a bit alarming.

  3. MDN, do you not read these links. The NTSB, and other studies by other groups, clear show that any distraction while driving, even eating or downing a Big Gulp, contribute to accidents. Sometimes the Apple fanboy approach needs a bit of rational thought.

    1. This isn’t an “Apple fanboy approach.” This is a “tired of bureaucrats trying to protect me from everything by taking everything away” approach. By this logic, every car should have no AM/FM radio receiver (except one tuned to the government notice frequency), have room for only the driver (so that there are no distracting conversations), go no faster than 15MPH, and not even function until the driver puts on his helmet and dons full personal protective gear.

      Yes, I’m taking it ad absurdam. So’s the NTSB.

      1. No, NTSB is NOT taking it “ad absurdam”. As said above (and in a linked article), 1 in 11 fatalities are caused by distractions (such as phones), vast majority of those being phones. Not AM/FM radios. Not other passengers. Not the lack of personal protective gear or helmets, nor speeds in excess of 15 MPH.

        So, when a number is NOT negligible, they will make their recommendation that reflects proper concern.

        Mind you, NTSB does NOT have a power to pass laws. Your elected representative does this for you, his electoral base.

  4. Well, I guess with all the electronics in a modern car, and the fact that it is mobile, about the only thing anyone would be able to drive legally would be a ’56 Edsel, or some other vintage automobile.

  5. What they need to do is ban passengers. For me at least, talking (hands free) to someone on an iPhone is no different than talking to someone sitting next to me.

    If they really want to get rid is distractions then they should ban all billboards, especially ones that use sex to sell. In other words, most of them.

    1. …”For me at least, talking (hands free) to someone on an iPhone is no different than talking to someone sitting next to me.”

      Oh, but there IS a difference. When you’re talking to a passenger, he is right there with you, and he equally responds to visual cues from outside (conversation suddenly dies when something is happening outside). When you’re on the phone with someone, you will always subconsciously remove yourself from your car and involve yourself with the person on the phone, significantly lowering your attention to the outside stimuli. This has been proven by scientific studies.

      NTSB’s recommendation is actually very reasonable, as inconvenient as it may be to many people who routinely talk on the phone and drive.

        1. Billboards are a separate issue – you may, or may not remember when Lady Bird Johnson had her campaign against trash/litter, and I believe billboards. Yes they are an eyesore – I wouldn’t mind seeing them all torn down. Chainsaws and wrenches would do the trick.

    2. YOU are damn RIGHT also STEVE – advertising is a mess of distraction – specially those HOT HOT HOT ads – you know — the ones you WILL MISS when they pull them off the BILLBOARDS… well now — naked white nothing hmmmm still sexy i guess – 🙂

  6. By the way, while Siri is amazing, it isn’t truly “hands-free” yet. You still have to look at the screen at times to select an option, and taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds is dangerous.

    Then again, i’m one of the people that texts while on the road, yet i haven’t been in an accident. Maybe i’m just lucky. What do I know?

    1. I appreciate your honesty, but for your own sake, don’t tempt fate. As a motorcycle rider, I see lots of people successfully sending off and reading their texts, all the while their autos move a bit towards my lane. Scares the hell out of me. As a school bus driver who spends much of my day on the road, I’ve seen too many terrible accidents to take driving for granted. I love tech, and i despise unnecessary laws. We should all just take it upon ourselves to make the roads safer for ourselves and our loved ones. Put the phone down and drive. Pull over somewhere safe if you have to.

  7. The NTSB will only be satisfied when a driver must enter a sensory deprivation chamber when they sit behind the wheel. No sound, no talking, no singing, no humming, no listening, only eyes focused on the road.

    That’s one way to cut down on driving and rush hour congestion. No one will ever drive again.

    1. Hahahahaha you got a EXCELLENT point and funny too!!!!

      There will be a prerequisite as well – eye tracking and scanning lessons to monitor the road… so if you do not look far enough up the road or do your shoulder checks properly YOU are DEDUCTED merit points on your driving FAIL to USE your eyes properly. – 6 point and lose of your license. OMG go figure.

  8. I think we should ban:
    Talking while driving a vehicle.
    Eating while driving a vehicle.
    Playing games like License Plates or Car identification with Kids while in the vehicle.
    Smoking while driving a vehicle.
    Listening to the radio, iPod or other musical device in your vehicle.
    Having a Navigational device installed in your vehicle.
    Passengers looking at a road map in your vehicle.
    Having any type of video device attached or running in your vehicle.
    Drinking any beverage while driving your vehicle.
    Putting on Sunglasses while driving your vehicle.
    Using the heater or air conditioner while driving your vehicle.
    Adjusting your seat while driving your vehicle.
    Adjusting your brake pedal while driving your vehicle.
    Operating electric windows while driving your vehicle.
    Leaning on the armrest while driving your vehicle.

  9. Be sure to ban eating while driving in the US, especially french fries and chicken nuggets. Dipping them into sauce and dripping is distracting. Wait — so is holding a cup of soda with a straw impaling your nostril can cause swerving and swearing.

  10. Some reading comprehension would do a lot of good for many people here. This has nothing at all to do with Siri. They are suggesting (appropriately or not) a ban of all phone usage, hands-free or not. I don’t think Siri offers any advantage over a standard Bluetooth setup in a car to make a hands free call. Both these would be banned based on the recommendation.

    Read, people.

  11. Human nature is TO BE DISTRACTED. Before cell phones, it was the radio or the A-B-C game or talking to people in the back seat or daydreaming or eating or reading the paper. Having ZERO statistical information, I would daresay that I doubt there are greater number of accidents today than there would be if cell phones did not exist, because we would be alternatively distracted.

    I do think that police should have the power of the law to stop someone who is driving erratically and dangerously regardless of the cause. Texting obviously results in dangerous driving. But on the whole, I would say that lighting a cigarette COULD be equally distracting… as could billboards. I do not believe that universal bans on anything is necessary, or warranted.

    1. Actually, the NTSB does have statistics to show the rate has increased with the use of cellphones. And police already have the power to stop erratic drivers, they’re just severely outnumbered.

      Too many people are posting “slippery slope” fallacies on MDN today.

      1. Police don’t stop erratic driving. They hide by the side of the road with radar and hand out revenue generating tickets.

        Wanna stop speeding? Put those that speed in jail. But we don’t want to stop speeders, we just want the revenue.

        1. You obviously know someone who works for a police department.
          I do too….sad, isn’t it?

          I drive almost a thousand mile a week, and have been pulled over once in 35 years of driving for speeding. Since my record was spotless, and I had barely tipped over the limit for a few seconds and was not maintaining that speed, they let me off with a Municipal fine, which meant they got the money, but since it wasn’t a traffic ticket, the insurance company wasn’t involved.

          I’m not downing the cops, just some of the systems they work for.

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