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Administration Announces Effort to Combat Distracted Driving

President Obama signed an Executive Order on Sept. 30 directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles, when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving, or while driving privately owned vehicles when they’re on official government business. The order also encourages federal contractors and others doing business with the government to adopt and enforce their own policies banning texting while driving on the job.

Following the President’s lead, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Oct. 1, during the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Distracted Driving Summit, that the DOT will also take a tougher position on text messaging while driving, beginning with three rulemakings banning or restricting texting and cell phone use by transportation workers. The rulemaking that will affect trucking will propose to ban “text messaging altogether, and restrict the use of cell phones by truck and interstate bus operators,” the DOT said in a press release. LaHood said that the trucking-related rulemaking would consider possible restrictions on other onboard communications technologies.

The Secretary also called on state and local governments to work with DOT to reduce fatalities and crashes by making distracted driving part of their state highway plans, and by continuing to pass state and local laws against distracted driving in all types of vehicles, especially school buses. He asked states and local governments to back up public awareness campaigns with high-visibility enforcement actions. And he said the DOT is establishing an on-line clearinghouse on the risks of distracted driving, aimed especially at young people, which will give them information to help encourage good decisions.

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