Hersman is battling automakers head-on when it comes to distracting technologies, and there are plenty of those technologies in today's vehicles. That includes hands-free calling made via Bluetooth, which has long been viewed as a safer alternative to grabbing a phone and calling someone the old-fashioned way. The proposed ban on hands-free calling reportedly doesn't include OnStar, which integrates calling directly through the vehicle. Hersman reportedly went as far as to suggest that automakers make their number one priority "safety, not sales."
While we think distracted driving is worth fighting, it's difficult to see where banning hands-free calling is the answer. And we're not alone. Even National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Ray LaHood feels the NTSB recommendation goes too far. If automakers are forced to remove the tech from new vehicles, we're thinking many drivers will simply revert back to hand-held calling.
The NTSB thinks that hand-held and hands-free are equally dangerous, but it's difficult to argue that case, especially if integrated technology like OnStar is permitted. Once a phone is paired, what's the difference between pressing the hands-free button and pressing the OnStar button? We'd argue that having kids in the back seat is far more distracting than hands-free calling, and we don't see the NTSB calling for a 'no kids in the car' policy any time soon.