President Barack Obama has signed an executive order banning federal employees from texting while driving a vehicle when on official business even if the vehicle being driven is not owned by the government. The order, issued last week, is an attempt to lead the charge encouraging people to stop texting while driving.
Lawmakers, ordinary citizens, safety advocates, and police attended a two-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC that the US Department of Transportation organized. Already, the District of Columbia has a ban on texting or talking on a hand-held device while driving. Unfortunately, there are District of Columbia motorists who still engage in this dangerous habit that can lead to catastrophic Washington DC car accidents. Not only is texting while driving against the law but, like drunk driving, this popular form of distracted driving can kill people and lead to DC injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits.
The Obama administration has given each of the federal agencies 90 days to figure out how to enforce his order. He also wants the agencies to ban subcontractors and contractors from texting while driving. Federal employees working in national security or law enforcement are exempt from the ban.
For purposes of his order, President Obama defines “driving” as operating a motor vehicle. Drivers that are stopped at a traffic stop or traffic light or for any other reason that requires them to engage with the flow of traffic even if they are in “pause” mode with the engine running are still “driving.” However, Mr. Obama says it is acceptable for a federal worker to text message if he or she has pulled over to the side of the road.
Distracted Driving Facts from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
• Driver distraction is the cause of 1 million North American traffic accidents each year.
• Although, per the 2009 Index, 95% of drivers think that texting while driving is unacceptable behavior, 18% of them still do it.
• More than 50% of the time a motorist is driving, he or she is engaged in at least one other task.
Obama enacts texting ban on federal employees, The Washington Times, October 2, 2009
The Facts about Distracted Driving – Know the Dangers/Avoid the Risks, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
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