White House Signs Executive Order for Federal Texting While Driving Ban
Yesterday at the conclusion of the Department of Transportation’s Distracted Diving Summit in Washington, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the White House has signed an executive order than bans federal employees and contractors from texting behind the wheel while on government business.
According to ABC News, LaHood said, “This order sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable. It shows that the federal government is leading by example. This is a very big deal.”
The executive order signed by President Obama states that “the Federal Government can and should demonstrate leadership in reducing the dangers of text messaging while driving.”
A press release from the White House read: “Recent deadly crashes involving drivers distracted by text messaging while behind the wheel highlight a growing danger on our roads. Text messaging causes drivers to take their eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel, endangering both themselves and others. Every day, Federal employees drive Government-owned, Government-leased, or Government-rented vehicles (collectively, GOV) or privately-owned vehicles (POV) on official Government business, and some Federal employees use Government-supplied electronic devices to text or e-mail while driving. A Federal Government-wide prohibition on the use of text messaging while driving on official business or while using Government-supplied equipment will help save lives, reduce injuries, and set an example for State and local governments, private employers, and individual drivers. Extending this policy to cover Federal contractors is designed to promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.”
During the summit, Se. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, said, “I’m completely amazed that anyone believes that it is a reasonable idea to take your eyes off of the road, look down and type a message while driving in traffic. The time has come to act before it is too late, before more lives are lost and we look back with regret that we did nothing in the face of imminent danger.”
Motor vehicle laws are under state jurisdiction, but the Alert Drivers Act released earlier this summer would require states to ban texting and emailing behind the wheel or lose 25 percent of federal highway funding.
Victims of distracted driving like Dave and Trudy Teater spoke at the summit. The Teaters lost their 12-year old son Joe in 2004, to a driver who was talking on a cell phone. They are now activists for enacting a ban on texting while behind the wheel.
“He was just the life blood and spark plug of our family,” said DaveTeater, who is now a spokesperson for the National Safety Council. “It’s our hope that we can prevent others from doing the same thing.”
As of today, 18 states plus the District of Columbia have already taken action to prohibit texting for drivers. In Utah, a driver can receive up to 15 years in prison if he or she causes injury or death while texting behind the wheel.
“Driving while distracted should just feel wrong, just as driving without a seat belt or driving while intoxicated,” said LaHood in his closing remarks. “We’re not going to break everyone of their bad habits, but we are going to raise awareness and sharpen the consequences.”
Have you been injured or lost a loved one due distracted driving? If you need legal advice from an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney, call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.