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Txting y-ile driving now banned for feds

By Ed O'Keefe

(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

An executive order signed by President Obama in October takes effect Wednesday, meaning that more than 3 million federal workers are prohibited from texting while driving government vehicles, using government-issued phones and PDAs or driving their own vehicles while on official business.

Obama's order does not ban phone calls while driving (thanks to hands-free devices), and agencies can exempt employees performing "protective, law enforcement or national security responsibilities" from the policy. The order also strongly encourages federal contractors to prohibit their employees from texting while driving company vehicles.

“I am proud that the federal government is leading by example, and encourage others to think about how they can set a safety example in their communities whether it’s through employee policies, safety awareness campaigns, or just making sure your teen driver knows the risks," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Nearly 6,000 people died in crashes that involved a distracted or inattentive driver in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In an effort to cut those statistics, the government launched, which compiles the government's information on distracted driving. LaHood also appears in a new public service announcement that is slick and well-produced and not nearly as graphic as similar British PSAs.

As the new executive order takes effect -- what do you think? Is it practical? Enforceable? Will you comply?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Please Note: The daily morning Eye Opener resumes on Monday

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 30, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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The order also bans use of GPS devices, which is simply idiotic. Trying to drive while reading directions or looking at maps is far more dangerous than letting a GPS guide you, and that's what you're stuck with when driving somewhere unfamiliar. The intent is good, but the administration needs to re-think this one.

Posted by: LucyInMaryland | December 30, 2009 6:50 AM | Report abuse

I've read the order and I see nothing to indicate using a GPS will be banned.

Posted by: BigBubba1 | December 30, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

LucyInMaryland -- It's Ed O'Keefe, and BigBubba1 is right. I just checked w/ DOT and they say that the order only applies to texting while driving and not GPS devices, meaning it's still OK to use them while driving if you're a federal worker.

Posted by: Ed O'Keefe | December 30, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

The rule *does* seem to ban use of GPS. Here is an excerpt from the rule itself (from, where it defines what "texting" means. It specifically bans reading from an electronic device to obtain navigational information:

(b) "Texting" or "Text Messaging" means reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device, including for the purpose of SMS texting, e-mailing, instant messaging, obtaining navigational information, or engaging in any other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication.

Posted by: Sam19 | December 30, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Subpara 6(b) could also be interpreted to prohibit reading the large, electronic road information signs our government just spent multi-millions installing on our city and interstate highways. Imagine telling the policeman you were prohibited by executive order from reading that electronic speed limit sign on the Wilson Bridge...

Seriously, though, the intent is spelled out in Section 2 of the order, and the prohibition is against using 2-way messaging devices (like Crackberries) for GPS purposes while driving. I don't think you'd be busted for using your Magellarmin on a cross-country trip.

At least, I hope not, 'cause I'm fixin' to do just that next week...

Posted by: Apostrophe | December 30, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Heck, I quit listening to the car radio about 15 years ago. In traffic, you need to be ever alert...if only for 'the other guy'. Remember how quickly that last accident you had developed?

Posted by: vimor16 | December 30, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

One thing is passing a law; another thing is enforcing it. I have never heard of the police in California enforcing the law prohibiting hand-held cell phone use while driving.

Posted by: Noway1 | December 30, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The President did not go far enough with this Executive Order ... it should apply to everyone in the United States.

Texting while driving is a foolish practice which endangers the lives of other people.

Posted by: BillyDofTennessee | December 30, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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