Cell phone ban would have local support

Published 6:31 am Friday, December 16, 2011

Cell phones may be convenient, but the National Transportation Safety Board says they’re also deadly when combined with vehicle use.

The NTSB has called on the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.

The safety recommendation calls for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the non-emergency use of cell phones and other electronic devices for all drivers. The recommendation excludes GPS systems.

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Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas agrees with the recommendation.

“It is absolutely not safe,” Thomas said. “There is no advantage to texting or calling someone on your cell phone while you are driving.”

Thomas also said that he feels a ban would be beneficial to teenagers who are new drivers.

“They’ve been texting most of their lives and all of a sudden they are independent and behind the wheel,” Thomas said. “They need to be focused on the road and traffic.”

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people were killed in 2010 due to distraction-related accidents.

“It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

Troy Police Sgt. Benny Scarborough said that local law enforcement officers have absolutely seen and reported accidents where electronic devices were involved.

“We have to look at the safety of people, drivers and pedestrians. That’s our job,” Scarborough said, adding that if the ban does happen, the Troy Police Department will be looking at other agencies who have already successfully implemented bans to see how they enforce it.

Thomas said he hopes, even without the ban, that drivers use a little common sense to keep everyone safer on the roads.

“If you feel the need to text or make a phone call while you are driving, take a moment to pull over and then do your business,” Thomas said.