Distracted Driving--strong action taken at federal level after Summit

Text While Driving by OzLady on FlickR
Reducing or eliminating injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving has been one of MoBikeFed's agenda items (and on our Legislative Platform [Word Doc]) for many years.

It is good to see some real concrete steps taken to combat distracted driving after the recent national summit on distracted driving this week. According to The Trucker:
At the conclusion of a two-day summit on distracted driving in Washington today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a series of concrete actions the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are taking to help put an end to distracted driving.
Last night, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they’re 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.
“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,” said Secretary 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.”
Secretary 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 the department’s plan to create three separate rulemakings that would consider:

• Making permanent restrictions on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices in rail operations

• Banning text messaging altogether, and restrict the use of cell phones by truck and interstate bus operators, 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 DOT 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. And he said the department is establishing an online clearinghouse on the risks of distracted driving, aimed especially at young people, which will give them information to help encourage good decisions.
According to a recent study, 80% of crashes involve distracted driving.

This year the Missouri General Assembly passed a ban on texting while driving, a bill that was supported by MoBikeFed. While the new law only applies to drivers under 21, it was Missouri's first step in banning distracted driving.

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