As National Distracted Driving Awareness Month gets underway, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials are urging California lawmakers to ban all cell phone use while driving including hands-free calling.
The NTSB says distracted driving kills thousands every year and though drivers now can’t have the phone in their hands for any reason except in emergencies, hands-free calls through a Bluetooth may be out of the question as well.
"It would be a big problem for me," said San Jose Limo driver Bryan Schwab. "We're constantly getting calls, changes of rides and information with flights."
Like Schwab, many residents use their Bluetooth for work and some may even argue they’re not much of a distraction at all.
"Car phones today are so automated you can operate them with your voice," said David Arredondo. "It doesn't make any more of a distraction than the radio."
The NTSB made the same call to states in 2011 but none responded. Now, officials think California can lead the way as it has before in traffic safety.
"What better place to start than California," said NTSB Safety Advocacy Chief Nicholas Worrel. "I did say if California will lead, NTSB will stand behind them to support any legislation."
Worrel argues that talking on a Bluetooth still impairs a driver’s ability to focus on the road.
"The data supports it," he said. "We want you to get where you’re going safe. You may not understand it, you may again think that you can multitask, but you cannot."
Lawmakers would have to draft and pass a bill for this to go into effect. Meanwhile, many drivers are still skeptical.
"Talking would interfere with my driving? That’s what they’re saying?" Los Gatos resident Lynette Fisher said. "Well then I guess I won’t be able to talk to the people in the car either."