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Washington Life

Obama Bans Federal Employees From Texting While Driving

By Ashley Halsey III
President Obama has banned federal employees from text messaging when they are behind the wheel of government vehicles and from texting in their own cars if they use government-issued phones or are on official business.

The ban, in the form of an executive order (PDF) signed Wednesday night, was announced Thursday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the culmination of a two-day meeting on the issue of distracted driving.

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Posted at 2:52 PM ET on Oct 1, 2009  | Category:  Washington Life
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"If we can save hundreds of lives, should we refrain until we can do more?"

Ban all automobiles then.

Posted by: JakeD | October 2, 2009 12:19 PM

JakeD had some interesting observations. There is no doubt that many of the other distractions he cites do exist. So far, I haven't seen any data that shows that they pose as serious a problem as cell phones and texting. There is a statement in the linked article that JakeD provided that turning and leaning distractions do occur more, but it did not say that they caused as many or more accidents. In a link that was included in that article, there was the following: "In Strayer's previous studies, he found driving while talking on a mobile device is 'just as bad as driving drunk.'" Surely, nobody would want to repeal DWI laws! And texting is far worse! Even if some other distractions lead to as many or even more accidents, if we have no way to control them, we should not fail to correct what we can. If JakeD has some suggestions for positive means to prevent these, or the problem of cell phones/texting, he should post them. It has been said that the enemy of good is perfect. If we can save hundreds of lives, should we refrain until we can do more?
By the way, the same article that is in the link above presents results that indicate that it is the shift of concentration that is the problem, not driving with one hand, so the Bluetooth solution proposed by kogejoe would be a weak one, at best. It is a good try, though, and in fact there are laws that provide for just that. These were passed by (probably) well-meaning legislators who did not understand the mechanism of the problem. They also place a very difficult challenge to the police who must enforce these laws.

Posted by: whirlarang | October 1, 2009 10:34 PM

A simple declaration of prohibition is worthless unless it can be backed up with enforcement and penalties. If the Government is serious about preventing texting or the only slightly less serious problem of cell phone usage while driving, there is a technical solution that could be implemented with current technology and at minimal cost. Wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.) can determine the location of any wireless device today, and can track the movement, hence the rate of speed of any device using their network. By placing a threshold, say, 5 MPH, on this rate, they could use the data to block transmissions to and from the wireless devices. An exception could be made for 911 calls, so that true emergencies could be reported from a moving vehicle. Thus, no additional burden would be placed on law enforcement or the courts, and no fines would be levied. Further, this could probably be implemented by a rules change by the FCC, and would be uniform nationwide.

Posted by: whirlarang | October 1, 2009 9:41 PM

What about driving while tired?!

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:42 PM

"Reaching and leaning around inside the car" while driving is actually the most common distraction -- so, we need driver immobilization mechanisms right away -- seriously, where do we draw the line?

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:40 PM

Changing CDs / radio station (Monica Lewinsky flipped her car doing that), talking to ANYONE, and smoking too.

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:39 PM


How about "eating" or "dealing with under-aged kids" in the car? Those should be banned as well. I am not a Republican but rather a registered member of the American INDEPENDENT Party : )

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:36 PM

JakeD must be a republican. One that cannot spell at that.

Yes, I agree. Texting should be banned, along with applying make-up while driving.

In most other cases I'd say, it's your life, you can put it in danger as you see fit.

But driving on the road puts others at risk, not just you.

Out with texters and last-minute makeup artists.

Get a hands-free device. Blue-tooth has some nice models out on the market; you can hardly tell they're there anymore, much like talking with someone in the car.

Posted by: kogejoe | October 1, 2009 8:31 PM

texting (darn Spellchecker, at least I'm not driving too ; )

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:12 PM

LOL!!! Seriously, there's no bigger threat to the world than testing while driving?

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 7:43 PM

thanks be to obama

Posted by: member5 | October 1, 2009 3:35 PM

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