Texting, using cell phone while driving the new DUI?

NTSB wants nationwide crackdown on use of cell phones while driving / WNWO Newsfile

The days of you being allowed to use your cell phone at any time while driving without criminal consequences could soon come to an end.

That is, if the National Transportation Safety Board gets its way. Tuesday, the NTSB recommended states ban the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by all drivers except in emergencies.

This comes after the board investigated a fatal highway pile-up in Missouri in August 2010. Investigators say the accident was caused by a distracted 19 year-old-pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the accident. That driver along with a 15-year-old student who was on a bus involved in the wreck died. At least 38 others were injured.

"In the 11 minutes before the accident, 11 texts were sent or received and the last text was right before the impact. We will never know if the driver was typing, reading or reaching for his phone at the time of the accident." But what we do know from this accident is that this driver was distracted. Cognitively, manually, and visually while he was driving. Driving was not his only priority. But you know what? This driver wasn't alone. This driver was doing something that many of his peers on the roadway do. It's time to put a stop to distraction. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life" said Deborah Hersman, NTSB Chairman.

Almost 3,100 people died due to distracted driving last year, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

GPS devices would be exempt from the proposed ban. But hands-free devices would not.

"This is becoming the new DUI. It's becoming an epidemic" said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB Board Member.

The NTSB does not have any regulatory or legislative authority, but board members are calling on state legislatures to take action.

Toledo and Wauseon both have laws on the books that ban texting while driving. Ohio lawmakers are still at an impasse on whether or not to issue a statewide ban. Michigan has a statewide ban on texting while driving.

Read More: Ohio Laws/Legislation on electronics

What do you think about the NTSB's recommendation? Should the use of electronic devices while driving be banned nationwide? Have you had a run in with a distracted driver? Do you text while driving? Post your comments below.