Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mixed Reactions To Broad Cell Phone Driving Ban


There’s been a lot of reaction, positive and negative, to yesterday’s call from the National Transportation Safety Board for states to ban all cell phone use– even hands-free– while driving.

Among the naysayers:

  • Florida Sheriff Ben Johnson says the law would be “near impossible to enforce.”
  • Georgia State Senator Jack Murphy says a total ban goes too far. (The state already bans texting while driving, and talking on a phone while driving for anyone under 18.)
  • Chicago business owner Leila Noelliste told the Huffington Post that she is against the ban because being able to talk on the cellphone “when I’m running around town” is important to self-employed people like herself.

Those in favor include:

Mary Maguire, spokesperson for AAA, told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that distracted driving is a serious problem and she hopes the NTSB recommendations provoke debate about the topic.

However, she says it would be difficult to garner the kind of public support needed to forge these recommendations into law.

“I do think that it’s probably unrealistic because there is not one state in the union that has an overall ban. So I think that gives us an indication of legislative sentiment as well as public sentiment,” she said.

NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman said she realized the ban might be unpopular but that “no call, no text, no update is worth a human life,” she said. “This is a difficult recommendation, but it’s the right recommendation and it’s time,” she said.

In giving the reasoning for the recommendation, Hersman said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 3,000 people lost their lives last year in “distraction-related accidents.”

The board made the recommendation following a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year  in which a teenager was found to have sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes before the accident.

Nine states now ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving and 35 states have laws against texting while driving.

And contrary to popular belief, research from the National Safety Council shows that hands-free devices offer no safety benefits for drivers.


  • Mary Maguire, spokesperson for AAA

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Experts share a range of perspectives on how to combat the Islamic State militant group, and the role the U.S. should play.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 26 8 Comments

Arlo Guthrie Celebrates 50 Years Of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Listening to the 18-minute musical monologue has been a Thanksgiving tradition among folk music fans for decades.

November 26 Comment

One Refugee’s Story Of Coming To America

Paul Okot vividly remembers landing at JFK airport in New York at 7 years old, after fleeing violence in southern Sudan.

November 25 3 Comments

Rapper Le1f Finds Struggle And Moral Diversity In American Music

We've been asking musicians what they think of when they think "American music." Today we hear from Khalif Diouf, aka Le1f.

November 24 7 Comments

Ferguson: One Year Later

City council member Wesley Bell looks back on the past year since protests and violence swept the Missouri city.