Yesterday, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that “the 50 states and the District of Columbia:”
(1) Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers; (2) use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high visibility enforcement to support these bans; and (3) implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement, and to warn them of the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving. (H-11-XX)
As usual, there has been a big hue and cry among radio amateurs who fear that this recommendation is going to somehow find its way into laws that ban use of mobile radio equipment. In my humble opinion, we really don’t have to worry about this.
In nearly all, if not all, states where laws have been enacted restricting the use of personal electronic devices, ham radio has always been exempted. One of the main reasons for this is that the National Safety Council recognizes that there is no evidence that operating an amateur radio set poses a significant crash risk. The ARRL and the ARRL members in states where this legislation has come up have been quick to point this out, and we will be quick to point this out again.
The accidents cited in the recommendation are certainly terrible events, and banning cellphone use while driving may certainly be a legitimate thing to do. Having said that, none of the incidents involved amateur radio or any other two-way radio operation, and we should be quick to point that out.
And one more thing: drive carefully, whether you have a microphone in your hand or not.