The U.S. Department of Transportation handed down his opinion on the future possibility of a proposed ban that would restrict cell phone use including hands-free use while driving. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood stated that he is against such an action and that in all likelihood, laws around the country will remain the same.

LaHood stated that he doesn't believe that Bluetooth and other internal systems built into cars cause accidents and that instead of blaming the cell phone in totality, blame should be focused on text messaging and hand-held calls. The secretary points to the fact that there are already laws in place throughout the country that prohibit this type of activity and the key to success is to enforce existing laws as opposed to implementing new ones.

Automobile safety regulators from the NTSB recommended a total ban of cell phones and hands-free units almost two weeks ago after reviewing a case in Missouri that resulted in a deadly car crash. NTSB referred to cell phone use as the new DUI and said it was an epidemic that has taken the country by storm. Car makers and cell phone carriers were relieved as the ban could have impacted profit margins.

The NTSB cannot impose a national ban without the Obama administration's approval. The Department of Transportation has rule-making authority over the NTSB which prevents them from implementing any rules contrary to the DOT secretary's wishes.

Debate may be reignited next year as the NTSB will be releasing its study on the level of risk of driving with hands-free devices. If the report shows significant risk, it may put further pressure on Ray LaHood to reevaluate his position.


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