NHTSA Abdicates Authority on Mobile Phone Safety

NHTSA Abdicates Authority on Mobile Phone Safety

Arlington, VA – The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) made a request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeking clarification regarding NHTSA’s authority to make the country’s roadways safer by regulating the use of mobile phones by drivers on public roadways. In response to this inquiry, NHTSA claimed it has regulatory authority limited to only when a mobile phone controls a vehicle. It also claimed that driving was a state issue even when mobile phone usage involves interstate commerce.

This request occurred after NWRA received a similar response from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which suggested the Association reach out to the Department of Transportation and NHTSA.

“Federal agencies are playing a game of hot potato on this issue that does not help the waste and recycling workers who are in danger of dying on our roadways due to government inaction,” said Darrell Smith, NWRA president and CEO. “For too long, the government has known that mobile phones are a safety issue but refuses to take comprehensive action to protect our industry and others such as fire, emergency medical services, police, tow truck drivers and roadside construction workers.

“Cell phones are an inherently addictive consumer product that has resulted in numerous injuries and fatalities to the men and women of the waste and recycling industry. I am disappointed that the agency responsible for highway safety has punted to the states on an issue squarely within its jurisdiction.”

NWRA will continue to seek a federal champion on this issue.


The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) represents the private sector waste and recycling services industry. Association members conduct business in all 50 states and include companies that manage waste, recycling and medical waste, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and various other service providers. For more information about NWRA, please visit www.wasterecycling.org.

Brandon Wright
National Waste and Recycling Association