Electronic devices remain a target in stopping transit accidents

Electronic devices remain a target in stopping transit accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board found that addressing the use of portable electronic devices while driving should remain a priority. Critical changes have to be made for reduction of transportation accidents and fatalities, according to the NTSB.


New technologies have led to additional distractions for drivers in New York and everywhere else. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that engaging in visual-manual tasks, such as dialing or texting, multiplies the risk of a highway accident by three. The AAA Foundation also found that the use of a hands-free phone does not decrease a driver’s level of cognitive dissonance compared to hand-held devices.

The NTSB concluded that portable electronic devices (PED) played a role in 11 accidents that it investigated since 2003. These accidents resulted in 50 fatalities and 250 injuries.

All modes of transportation, according to the NTSB, should follow the sterile cockpit procedures recognized in the aviation industry. These restrict activities and conversations to the pilot’s immediate tasks. Since 2012, the NTSB also advocated for a ban of all PED use while driving and for the aviation, marine and rail industries.

The NTSB is also seeking additional restrictions on the use of PED while driving. Only 14 states and the District of Columbia currently prohibit using hand-held cell phones while driving. However, Washington, DC and 37 states ban cell phone use by new drivers. Moreover, the District of Columbia and 44 states forbid texting and driving. No state or jurisdiction prohibits the use of hands-free devices.

The NTSB’s advocacy of this issue illustrates that a distracted transit operators increase the risk of mass transit accidents. Victims of these accidents,and their families, may be entitled to compensation for losses through a wrongful death action. Prompt legal advice should be sought to help assure that their rights are protected during an accident investigation, settlement negotiations and legal proceedings.