While several states have laws banning the use of cell phones while driving, these regulations often include a caveat permitting talking through smartphone accessories such as a Bluetooth hands-free headset. However, recent studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety find that hands-free phone use may be just as dangerous.
According to PCWorld, the results of this research are not definitive – the study simply states that using a hands-free cell phone earpiece while driving does not provide a lower risk of road accidents than the physical use of a handset. Nonetheless, it prompted the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to promote a nationwide ban of all electronic devices – with a few exceptions – while driving.
The news source reports that the NTSB's ideal ban would only permit GPS devices or electronics that benefit driving, and that it would not penalize drivers who used their phones in an emergency. However, all other forms of phone use would be illegal if lawmakers acted on the NTSB's recommendation, which came after a text-messaging truck driver allegedly caused an accident in Missouri that resulted in two deaths and 38 injuries.
Deborah Hersman, the NTSB's chairwoman, stressed the issue when talking to the New York Times. "People are tempted to update their Facebook page, they are tempted to tweet as if sitting at a desk. But they are driving a car," she told the news provider.