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Today's automobiles are more connected than ever, and the National Transportation Safety Board doesn't seem to approve. The Detroit News reports that NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman is standing behind a recommendation to ban drivers from making hands-free phone calls that aren't of the emergency variety.

Hersman is battling automakers head-on when it comes to distracting technologies, and there are plenty of those technologies in today's vehicles. That includes hands-free calling made via Bluetooth, which has long been viewed as a safer alternative to grabbing a phone and calling someone the old-fashioned way. The proposed ban on hands-free calling reportedly doesn't include OnStar, which integrates calling directly through the vehicle. Hersman reportedly went as far as to suggest that automakers make their number one priority "safety, not sales."

While we think distracted driving is worth fighting, it's difficult to see where banning hands-free calling is the answer. And we're not alone. Even National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Ray LaHood feels the NTSB recommendation goes too far. If automakers are forced to remove the tech from new vehicles, we're thinking many drivers will simply revert back to hand-held calling.

The NTSB thinks that hand-held and hands-free are equally dangerous, but it's difficult to argue that case, especially if integrated technology like OnStar is permitted. Once a phone is paired, what's the difference between pressing the hands-free button and pressing the OnStar button? We'd argue that having kids in the back seat is far more distracting than hands-free calling, and we don't see the NTSB calling for a 'no kids in the car' policy any time soon.

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thats petty stupid... having a hands free phone in the car is no different that selecting your favorite channel on the radio then having a conversation with a passenger
 

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They will try, but it won't happen, nor is there anyway to enforce it. The irony is, if you look at the government's statistics, drivers distracted by passengers has resulted in higher accident rates than drivers using cellphones by a significant margin. This includes physically holding the phone to talk AND texting.
Since most people don't actually look up the statistics, government organizations and lobbyists like this use terror campaigns to convince people that cellphone use is going to claim everyone's first born. It is an attempt to give the illusion that the NTSB is performing a useful function despite the opposite being true. It is about more funding, more power and minimal effort.
If they were to start banning things in order of real statistical risk, than before even banning cellphone use in a car in any capacitity, they would have to mandate all cars only have one seat, no cargo space, a radio or any informational display. Of couse, they won't do that.

While I certainly don't advocate people doing anything that results in a significant distraction while driving, we are essentially being lied to about what the real problems are and how to effectively correct them. Notice how people that tend to be overly distracted by their phones happen to be bad drivers anyway? These are the same type of people that before phones were finding other ways not to stay alert. The quality of driver education in the US is outright horrifying and the qualifications to get and keep your license are almost non existant. Proper training would go a long way to actually tackling real issues that some people have behind the wheel, but this is something that requires effort from our government. It is far easier for them to conjure up some study and pass a law banning something than it is to bring about real steps to deal with the problem.
 
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