The US road safety body has called for a blanket ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the improved functionality of smartphones and the social networking apps in particular have increased the risk of accidents.

The federal agency reckons the time is now right for individual states to introduce new laws outlawing texting, tweeting, calling and even talking on a Bluetooth headset.

Tempted

"Every year, new devices are being released," said NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman.

"People are tempted to update their Facebook page, they are tempted to tweet, as if sitting at a desk. But they are driving a car.

"The agency based its recommendation on evidence from its investigation of numerous crashes in which electronic distraction was a major contributing factor."

Non-binding

No states are bound to adopt the recommendation and initial indications appear to suggest that none of them actually will and that any changes would require a huge shift in mentality.

The New York Times reports that lawmakers are unlikely to risk upsetting voters who're used to using their smartphones while on the road.

Any ban would also impact car manufacturers who're placing stock in in-car wireless integration systems.

As it stands nine states have banned hand held phone, while 35 have made texting illegal.

"It's going to be very unpopular with some people," added Hersman.

"We're not here to win a popularity contest. We're here to do the right thing. This is a difficult recommendation, but it's the right recommendation and it's time."

Via: New York Times