< Federal Agency advises U.S. to Hang up and Drive

Transcript

Friday, December 16, 2011

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Maybe you've seen this public service announcement making the rounds online.

[ANNOUNCEMENT SOUNDTRACK]

Three girls get into a car, the driver texts while driving, and over the next four minutes it gets gory.

[SOUND OF CRASH]

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a complete ban on cell phone use by drivers - no texting no web surfing, no talking, not even on a hands-free device. The advisory is non-binding, but states pay close attention to the NTSB.

Deborah Hersman is the NTSB's chairman. Welcome to On the Media.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Well thank you, I'm happy to be with you.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

So what percentage of people do you think drive and text?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Well, according to a survey here in the Washington, D.C. area that was released last week by AAA, over half of the respondents admitted to talking on their cell phone. And over 20 percent admitted to texting recently.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics last week that attributed over 3,000 fatalities last year to distractions.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Was there a particular incident that sort of pushed you to do this now?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

The accident that we investigated most recently involved a truck that was driven by a 19-year-old, and he had sent or received eleven texts in 11 minutes right before the multi-vehicle pileup on the interstate in Missouri. Unfortunately, he was killed, as was another student on a school bus, and scores were injured.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

In your statement, you compared changing public attitudes towards driving while texting to previous efforts to change the public's view of other dangerous things like smoking. But tobacco wasn't, at least initially, regarded as deadly, while everyone knows that distracted driving is dangerous. Why aren't behaviors changing?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

You know what, I don't know that everyone agrees that distracted driving is dangerous. A lot of people agree that hand-held devices are distracting. And so, some states have banned hand-held devices. But there's a - still a lot of people who believe that they can talk hands-free and be safe. So it is a challenge.

Trying to convince people that not just other people but they can't drive safely when they're talking or texting is probably the big hurdle that we're gonna have to clear.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

That's right. Studies suggest everybody knows that using your phone while driving is bad for other people, but not for them.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

In surveys, you'll have 90 percent of the respondents saying, you know, they think other people drive worse when they're talking on the phone or texting, but yet they admit to talking [LAUGHS] on their phone or texting. Parents definitely don't want their teen  drivers to be distracted behind the wheel, but many of them may talk on their phones while they're driving.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

What kind of penalty are you recommending?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Our recommendation are that states institute bans to conduct high visibility enforcement campaigns. So it is a three-legged stool, to have the law, to have the education and have the enforcement.

Forty years ago 15 percent of people buckled up. Today we have about 85 percent of the U.S. wearing their seatbelts.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Deborah, thank you very much.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

You are very welcome. Thank you for having me.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Deborah Hersman is chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

And I'm Brooke Gladstone. Maybe you've seen this public service announcement making the rounds online.

[ANNOUNCEMENT SOUNDTRACK]

Three girls get into a car, the driver texts while driving, and over the next four minutes it gets gory.

[SOUND OF CRASH]

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a complete ban on cell phone use by drivers - no texting no web surfing, no talking, not even on a hands-free device. The advisory is non-binding, but states pay close attention to the NTSB.

Deborah Hersman is the NTSB's chairman. Welcome to On the Media.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Well thank you, I'm happy to be with you.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

So what percentage of people do you think drive and text?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Well, according to a survey here in the Washington, D.C. area that was released last week by AAA, over half of the respondents admitted to talking on their cell phone. And over 20 percent admitted to texting recently.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics last week that attributed over 3,000 fatalities last year to distractions.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Was there a particular incident that sort of pushed you to do this now?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

The accident that we investigated most recently involved a truck that was driven by a 19-year-old, and he had sent or received eleven texts in 11 minutes right before the multi-vehicle pileup on the interstate in Missouri. Unfortunately, he was killed, as was another student on a school bus, and scores were injured.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

In your statement, you compared changing public attitudes towards driving while texting to previous efforts to change the public's view of other dangerous things like smoking. But tobacco wasn't, at least initially, regarded as deadly, while everyone knows that distracted driving is dangerous. Why aren't behaviors changing?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

You know what, I don't know that everyone agrees that distracted driving is dangerous. A lot of people agree that hand-held devices are distracting. And so, some states have banned hand-held devices. But there's a - still a lot of people who believe that they can talk hands-free and be safe. So it is a challenge.

Trying to convince people that not just other people but they can't drive safely when they're talking or texting is probably the big hurdle that we're gonna have to clear.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

That's right. Studies suggest everybody knows that using your phone while driving is bad for other people, but not for them.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

In surveys, you'll have 90 percent of the respondents saying, you know, they think other people drive worse when they're talking on the phone or texting, but yet they admit to talking [LAUGHS] on their phone or texting. Parents definitely don't want their teen  drivers to be distracted behind the wheel, but many of them may talk on their phones while they're driving.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

What kind of penalty are you recommending?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Our recommendation are that states institute bans to conduct high visibility enforcement campaigns. So it is a three-legged stool, to have the law, to have the education and have the enforcement.

Forty years ago 15 percent of people buckled up. Today we have about 85 percent of the U.S. wearing their seatbelts.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Deborah, thank you very much.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

You are very welcome. Thank you for having me.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Deborah Hersman is chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

And I'm Brooke Gladstone. Maybe you've seen this public service announcement making the rounds online.

[ANNOUNCEMENT SOUNDTRACK]

Three girls get into a car, the driver texts while driving, and over the next four minutes it gets gory.

[SOUND OF CRASH]

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a complete ban on cell phone use by drivers - no texting no web surfing, no talking, not even on a hands-free device. The advisory is non-binding, but states pay close attention to the NTSB.

Deborah Hersman is the NTSB's chairman. Welcome to On the Media.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Well thank you, I'm happy to be with you.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

So what percentage of people do you think drive and text?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Well, according to a survey here in the Washington, D.C. area that was released last week by AAA, over half of the respondents admitted to talking on their cell phone. And over 20 percent admitted to texting recently.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics last week that attributed over 3,000 fatalities last year to distractions.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Was there a particular incident that sort of pushed you to do this now?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

The accident that we investigated most recently involved a truck that was driven by a 19-year-old, and he had sent or received eleven texts in 11 minutes right before the multi-vehicle pileup on the interstate in Missouri. Unfortunately, he was killed, as was another student on a school bus, and scores were injured.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

In your statement, you compared changing public attitudes towards driving while texting to previous efforts to change the public's view of other dangerous things like smoking. But tobacco wasn't, at least initially, regarded as deadly, while everyone knows that distracted driving is dangerous. Why aren't behaviors changing?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

You know what, I don't know that everyone agrees that distracted driving is dangerous. A lot of people agree that hand-held devices are distracting. And so, some states have banned hand-held devices. But there's a - still a lot of people who believe that they can talk hands-free and be safe. So it is a challenge.

Trying to convince people that not just other people but they can't drive safely when they're talking or texting is probably the big hurdle that we're gonna have to clear.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

That's right. Studies suggest everybody knows that using your phone while driving is bad for other people, but not for them.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

In surveys, you'll have 90 percent of the respondents saying, you know, they think other people drive worse when they're talking on the phone or texting, but yet they admit to talking [LAUGHS] on their phone or texting. Parents definitely don't want their teen  drivers to be distracted behind the wheel, but many of them may talk on their phones while they're driving.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

What kind of penalty are you recommending?

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

Our recommendation are that states institute bans to conduct high visibility enforcement campaigns. So it is a three-legged stool, to have the law, to have the education and have the enforcement.

Forty years ago 15 percent of people buckled up. Today we have about 85 percent of the U.S. wearing their seatbelts.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Deborah, thank you very much.

DEBORAH HERSMAN:

You are very welcome. Thank you for having me.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

Deborah Hersman is chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.