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New York State Lawmakers Consider Total Ban On Cell Phones While Driving

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This image was taken from an AT&T documentary showing the dangers of distracted driving. (credit: AT&T)

This image was taken from an AT&T documentary showing the dangers of distracted driving. (credit: AT&T)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - The vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board is testifying Monday at a New York Senate hearing on distracted driving.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman On The Story

This comes as the legislature is considering taking the cell phone driving ban one step further. Right now, you need a hands-free device to use your cell phone. What is under consideration would be an all-out ban on use of your cell phone behind the wheel.

NTSB vice chairman Christopher Hart has plenty of case studies on the subject.

“Driver of a motor coach went under an arch bridge where the edge of the arch was too low for the bus, but the middle of the arch was not too low, and he has traversed this route many times. But this time he was on his hands-free phone and caused the bus to collide with the bridge,” said Hart.

Hart will tell the State Senate transportation committee it’s about what’s going on in the driver’s mind, not what his hands are doing.

“A lot of people, for example, feel that they’re no more distracted by having a conversation on a hands-free phone than they are by talking with someone who is in the car. Experience would tell you that if someone is in the car with you, they will know that, for example, you’re on an icy road and need to be careful whereas someone who is on the other end of that telephone conversation will have no idea,” Hart told WCBS 880 reporter Alex Silverman.

“One of reasons we’re pleased to be testifying in New York is because New York was the first state to ban the use of hand-held phones,” Hart said. “They already took a leadership role. We’re hoping they will continue to take a leadership role by extending that to hands-free.”

The NTSB late last year recommended a ban on all use of electronic devices while driving, after a multi-vehicle wreck involving school buses in Missouri.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 5,400 people were killed and an estimated 448,000 were injured nationwide in crashes involving distracted driving in 2009.

Others testifying at Monday’s hearing include State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico, Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala, and representatives of AAA, Auto Alliance and Toyota.

Where do you stand on the issue? Sound off in the comments section below!

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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