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Quadriplegic woman weighs in on talking and texting cell phone ban | News

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Quadriplegic woman weighs in on talking and texting cell phone ban
Quadriplegic woman weighs in on talking and texting cell phone ban

TAMPA, Florida - It's a first for the federal government: a call to ban you from talking or texting while you drive. You wouldn't be allowed to talk on the phone hands free either while you're behind the wheel.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued the call for action on Tuesday. Officials with the NTSB say they had to do something drastic because in 2010 some 3,092 deaths were caused by distracting drivers.

Katie Mathews, 21, learned the lesson that cell phones and driving don't mix when she was just 16. She and a friend were in a SUV together headed out to a party. Mathews says, "I had a cell phone and I was on speaker and I was distracting the driver."

She says the person on the other end of the cell phone was trying to give them directions on where to exit I-75 in Tampa. "And I was holding it to my driver and we were told to exit and we realized that we just passed the exit, so she turned to try to make the exit and we ended up flipping four times," Mathews adds.

Katie was in a coma for two weeks. Now, she's a quadriplegic. She says the ban is the right thing to do. "That would be amazing. That would change lives for the better."

However, 10 News found several people who say they're busy and on the go. Many say they need the flexibility of talking and texting - when it's safe to do so - behind the wheel.

Caleb Wright is against the ban and says, "I think it's a violation. Number one, of our privacy, and number two, of our personal freedoms."

Beth McNaughton is also against the ban. She says, "Well, I'm a full-time student as well as I have a job and I drive from here to Palm Harbor and so I use that time to talk to people I need to talk to."

While some drivers won't leave home without it, Steve Hammer is the exception. He says, "I don't even have mine with me. I leave it at home when I'm driving."

It's something Katie Mathews hopes more people will consider. She says, "But ultimately, if you lose your life or your life is dramatically altered like mine was because of one simple phone call or text message, it's not worth it."

The ban would not include the hands free devices that allow you to talk on cell phones and are installed in the vehicle by the manufacturer. Passengers in your vehicle would be allowed to talk and text without fear of breaking the law.

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