AMA’s Rx: No handheld devices for drivers

logoThe American Medical Association — already on record against text messaging while driving — has endorsed laws that ban all forms of handheld devices for those behind the wheel.

Members called the use of handheld devices such as cell phones and texting devices “a very serious public health problem.”

“We’re very supportive of legislation to deal with this,” said AMA board member Dr. Edward Langston. “We want your hands on the steering wheel.

“A Harvard study estimates that about one in 20 traffic accidents involve a driver talking on a cell phone. By banning the use of handheld devices while driving, we can help prevent accidents and ensure the driver’s full attention is on the road.”

The AMA’s call for bans on drivers’ use of handheld devices includes cell phones, largely forgotten in the 2009 legislative rush to deal with texting by motorists.

The official position in favor of handheld cell phone laws was adopted the AMA’s semi-annual policy meeting on Nov. 10.

Last year the group of almost a quarter million physicians threw its weight behind various state efforts to ban text messaging while driving. “No one should have to worry that other drivers are focused on texting instead of traffic,” the medical association said at the time.

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