The National Safety Council (NSC) is calling for a ban on motorist cell phone use because of safety concerns, according to NSC information.

NSC said it is urging businesses to enact policies prohibiting drivers using cell phones and asking governors and legislators in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to pass laws banning the behavior.

"Studies show that driving while talking on a cell phone is extremely dangerous and puts drivers at a four times greater risk of a crash," said Janet Froetscher, president and chief executive officer of NSC.

A study from the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis estimates that cell phone use while driving contributes to six percent of crashes. The study also put the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion.

Talking on a cell phone may be less distracting than some other activities people may engage in while driving, but the use of cell phones and texting devices is much more pervasive, making it more dangerous overall, Froetscher said. The NSC also points to studies from researchers at the University of Utah that show that hands-free devices do not make cell phone calls while driving safe. Another study demonstrates that talking to passengers, as opposed to talking on a cell phone, actually makes adult drivers safer, because passengers help alert drivers to potential driving risks.

According to NSC, many businesses have already acknowledged the injuries and costs associated with the behavior by adopting policies that ban cell phone use by employees on the roads. Among NSC member businesses that responded to a survey, 45 percent said they have company policies prohibiting on-road cell phone use. Of those, 85 percent said the policies make no difference in business productivity.

A fact sheet, data resources, and other information concerning cell phone use while driving are available on the NSC Web site at nsc.org.