Dot’s Lahood Advances Driver Texting Bans, Cell Phone Usage Limitations

At the conclusion of last week’s two-day summit on distracted driving, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a series of actions his department and the Obama Administration are taking to help put an end to distracted driving

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.

At the conclusion of last week’s two-day summit on distracted driving, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a series of actions his department and the Obama Administration are taking to help put an end to distracted driving. Timed to the summit, President Obama last week signed an executive order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or privately owned vehicles while 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.

LaHood pledged to work with Congress to ensure that the issue of distracted driving is appropriately addressed. He also announced a number of immediate actions the department is taking to combat distracted driving, including three separate rulemakings that would consider permanent restrictions on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices in rail operations; banning text messaging while driving altogether, and restricting truck and interstate bus operators√Ć cell phone use; and, disqualifying school bus drivers convicted of texting while driving from maintaining their commercial driver’s licenses.

The secretary also called on state and local governments to work with USDOT 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. This order sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable, said LaHood. I fully expect that all 58,000 DOT employees and contractors will take this order seriously. Let’s show our friends and families that we can resist the temptation to answer the phone, send a message, or allow some other distraction to interfere with our driving.

The summit brought together safety experts, researchers, industry representatives, elected officials, and members of the public who shared their expertise, experiences and ideas for reducing distracted driving behavior and addressed the safety risk posed by this growing problem across all modes of transportation. LaHood’s video blog on distracted driving and the full webcast of the summit are available for viewing.