National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman was one of the featured guests for the first national "No Phone Zone Day," an initiative sponsored by Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Studios.
"No Phone Zone Day" is a public service campaign that brings together a coalition of government agencies and transportation safety organizations asking all Americans to take a pledge to agree not to use cell phones while driving. This includes texting and using only hands-free calling.
"Statistics tell us that talking or texting while driving jeopardizes the safety of everyone on the road," said Hersman. "The good news is that accidents caused by distractions are preventable if everyone would just hang up and drive.
"The number of people killed by drivers distracted by the use of an electronic communications device is equivalent of a major aviation accident every week. Our country would not accept that kind of a toll in airliner deaths, why should we tolerate it when it happens in ones and twos on our roadways?" Hersman added.
The NTSB has issued recommendations to restrict cell phone use for train operators, motorcoach and school bus drivers and novice automobile drivers and pilots. In fact, one of the NTSB's main focuses has been to eliminate distractions for young drivers. Prohibiting both motorcoach and young drivers from using these devices are items on the Board's Most Wanted list of Safety Improvements.
Last year, Hersman directed all NTSB employees not to use their government issued cell phones while driving, or their personal cell phones while driving on government business regardless if hand held or hands free. "I urge everyone to take the pledge today to never text or use a cell phone while driving."