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Assess the pros and cons of banning cell phones while driving

June 3, 2003
Web posted at: 11:25 PM EDT (0325 GMT)

Overview: The National Transportation Safety Board recommended on Tuesday that all states should prohibit drivers with learner's permits from using cell phones while driving.

After students read "NTSB: Young drivers should stay off the phone when on the road" present the following questions:

1. What percentage of U.S. drivers are teens? What percentage of fatal driving accidents are caused by teen drivers? Why are teens more vulnerable to accidents? What activities are potentially deadly distractions for teen drivers? What recommendation did the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) make recently regarding novice drivers and their use of cell phones?

2. Why is using hand-held cell phones while driving a safety concern? According to a highway patrol study, what percentage of accidents were linked to cell phone use? What is the National Transportation Safety Board's position on the use of hands-free phone devices?

3. Inform students that the recommendations by the NTSB are not mandatory. Then ask: Do you think the NTSB's recommendation will compel inexperienced drivers to stop using hand-held cell phones while driving? Why or why not? If not, do you think states or the federal government should institute laws to enforce the NTSB's recommendation? Discuss.

4. Ask students: How many states and municipalities have laws that ban hand-held cell phones? Which state is considering banning hand-held cell phones? Have students examine whether instituting laws that ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving impinge upon people's civil liberties. Generate a class discussion about civil liberties. What are some of the civil liberties that your students enjoy? To what extent are any or all of these limited by the federal government? Discuss occasions when civil liberties are limited in the interest of personal safety. For example, if your school has metal detectors, do students feel that the sacrifice of individual civil liberties is worthwhile to promote their general well-being or safety? When, if ever, do students feel the government may go too far? Relate this discussion back to the segment. Have each student draw upon his/her knowledge of driving safety and civil liberties to prepare and deliver a 2-minute speech that supports or opposes laws that ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.




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