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Home > Topics > Legislation & Funding
December 15, 2011
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Finally, the NTSB proposes a cell phone ban

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: The National Transportation Safety Board is urging all states to impose total bans on using a cell phone while driving, except for emergencies following recent deadly crashes. It's high time that happens, says Art Hsieh, EMS1 Editorial Advisor.

 

Hallelujah! Sorry to say, community health trumps individual rights on this one. This very morning I was cut off by a driver using a cell phone while driving at freeway speed, close enough that I had to brake abruptly. This happens all too often.

Most of us feel like we know when it’s appropriate to use a mobile device while we're operating a Very. Heavy. Object. Unfortunately it's not likely to be true.

A controlled study found that driving while on a phone is similar to driving while intoxicated over the legal limit. Other studies have shown similar findings, or worse.

The hands-free option doesn't help, either. Simply put, most of us don't multi-task. Instead we "microtask", where we spend a few microseconds focused on one thing, then a few microseconds on another thing, and so on.

If I am sitting at my desk piloting my keyboard, this works perfectly fine. If I am driving at 60 miles per hour, moving at 88 feet per second, focusing on my conversation could be an issue, don't you think?

Put it another way: during the last time you drove your car and were on your phone, do you remember exactly how you got from point A to point B? I know that I've missed my exit while driving because I was distracted. Not good.

As with seat belts and drunk driving laws, at some point we have to protect ourselves from ourselves. I'm hoping to see this recommendation be adopted by states, sooner than later. I mean, I like job security, but I don't want to be taken out by the idiot in the car next to me.

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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