LaHood says hands-free calling devices should not be banned

December 24, 2011 12:00 AM

It's not often that the government disagrees with itself when it comes to vehicle safety, but that's exactly what's happened with the controversy over the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) recent recommendation to ban the usage of cell phones and hands-free devices in all states.

Automakers were predictably opposed to the ban, mainly due to the hands-free inclusion, which would reflect poorly on the in-car voice activation systems that have become popular recently. However, it appears that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who typically crusades against distracted driving, is siding with the automakers.

"The problem is not hands-free," LaHood told The Detroit News. "That is not the big problem in America. Anybody that wants to join the chorus against distracted driving, welcome aboard. If other people want to work on hands-free, so be it."

The reason for the disagreement is that the NTSB typically functions within the government as an independent agency, rather than being part of the Department of Transportation or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both of which are under LaHoods control.

Driver behavior is a big part of vehicle safety, but it's far from the only factor. Those who want their vehicle to be as safe as possible should be sure to keep up with their auto maintenance, which can ensure that no mechanical issues lead to accidents.

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