Many states and cities around the country are introducing laws that prohibit talking or texting on cell phones while driving. Now it appears those laws should be extended to other modes of transportation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that two boating collisions last year involving U.S. Coast Guard vessels involved crew members who were using wireless devices while operating their boats.
Noting that a child died in one of the crashes, NTSB said its revelation is a reason that the Coast Guard and the maritime industry should create policies regarding the use of wireless devices on vessels.
NTSB said its investigation into last year’s accidents has not determined that cell-phone distractions caused the crashes. The investigation found only that wireless devices were being used by crew members operating the vessels.
The agency told the Coast Guard it should issue a safety advisory to the maritime industry educating it about the risks of using a cell phone while operating a boat. It also encouraged the industry to set voluntary policies around cell phones.
“The use of wireless communications devices while operating vehicles in any mode of transportation poses an unacceptable distraction,” NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement. “State governments and federal regulators have been acting to combat these safety hazards and we urge the Coast Guard to do the same.”
The Coast Guard issued a policy in July prohibiting their boat operators from using wireless devices and mandating that crew members get permission from the boat operator before using their cells.