Federal Staff Banned from Texting and Driving

Oct 08, 2009

Text ban while drivingThere’s been a lot of talk about texting and driving lately.  Now a major step has been taken in the war against this distracting practice by President Obama, who signed an executive order on September 30th banning the practice among all federal employees.


The order covers federal employees whenever they are using government-provided vehicles or phones or conducting government business.  In addition to this order, the government plans to issue a similar ban to drivers and truckers who travel across state lines and may even ban them from using cell phones altogether in non-emergencies.


Transportation secretary Ray LaHood says the new orders are intended to offer some relief from what he called “a deadly epidemic” of distracted driving.


“This meeting is probably the most important meeting in the history of the Department of Transportation,” Mr. LaHood said at the end of a two-day conference in Washington, D.C. He added that the order to restrict text messaging by federal employees behind the wheel “sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable.” 


President Obama’s order is immediately effective and applies to 4.5 million federal employees.  The order for commercial truckers and other drivers will take longer to implement and will be more nuanced to fit the needs of computer-based systems in some trucks.  The distracted driving conference provided a forum for a range of interests hoping to raise awareness of distracted driving and discuss how to fix the problem. The speakers included Senators Charles E. Schumer, (Democrat of New York), and Robert Menendez,  (Democrat of New Jersey), who have introduced legislation to force states to ban texting while driving or lose federal highway funds.


Photo courtesy of indyplanets under the Creative Commons License.