Transportation rejects NTSB's suggested cellphone ban for drivers

The Transportation Department will not back the National Transportation Safety Board's recommended ban on all cellphones while driving, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

In a press conference Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the U.S. government would not enforce the NTSB proposal, which includes a ban on hands-free devices. LaHood, who a year ago floated the possibility of a ban on all cellphones on the road, said that hands-free calling "is not the biggest problem in America," the Journal said.

The news will be welcomed by the cellphone industry and automobile industry, which is pushing new hands-free communication technology built into vehicles, including Ford's Sync software.

At its press conference on Dec. 13, NTSB originally stated that it was interested in pursuing state and local bans of mobile devices, rather than federal action. Unlike Transportation, the board lacks the power to enforce auto-safety laws of its own accord.

Nine states and the District of Columbia already ban the use of handheld cellphones while driving, and 35 states and the district have outlawed texting while driving.