The National Transportation Safety Board recently revealed that an unspecified number of crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard vessel that collided with a small boat in San Diego Harbor on December 20 were either texting or talking on their cell phones. Though stopping short of saying the activities were the direct cause of the accident, which killed an eight-year-old boy and seriously injured four other passengers, the NTSB urged the Coast Guard to develop a stricter policy regarding the use of electronic devices by its members. Though the agency acknowledges in a letter to the Coast Guard the potential usefulness of such devices as a backup for radio communications, "to achieve the intended improvement in safety, the NTSB believes that the Coast Guard must systematically identify the specific risks associated with distraction while using a cellphone or other wireless electronic device during vessel operations and address those risks in its policies."
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