Print 22 comment(s) - last by rdeegvainl.. on Jan 3 at 4:11 PM

Obama introduced the executive order in October

Anyone who drives or rides in a vehicle has seen other drivers on the roads who aren’t paying attention. People talk on the phone, text, read, and put on makeup while driving all around the country every day leading to accidents and at times death.

President Obama is looking to curb the practice of texting while driving by government employees and in October, Obama announced an executive order that would ban federal employees from texting while they are driving. The executive order even banned federal employees from texting on government provided cell phones when driving in personal vehicles. The executive order officially goes into effect today barring all 4 million federal employees from texting and driving.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "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."

When Obama announced the executive order in October, LaHood immediately directed all 58,000 Transportation Department employees to comply with the order. Lahood said, "Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road, even for just a few seconds, they put their lives and the lives of others in danger. Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and, in a split second, its consequences can be devastating."

To help promote the dangers of driving while distracted the NHTSA has launched a new website called The website gives factoids about distracted driving. One of the claims is that driving and talking on the phone makes you as much of a hazard on the road as someone driving over the legal drinking limit. The site also claims that 6,000 people died in distracted driving incidents in 2008. The NHTSA has also found that fatalities involving distracted drivers went from 8% in 2004 to 11% in 2008.

The real question is if the legislation will stop federal employees from driving and texting or driving while distracted. Many states around the country already have legislation in place that prevents drivers from making or receiving phone calls while driving without using a hands free device and many support a nationwide ban on texting and driving.

Distracted driving is hard for police to prove and therefore it's hard to catch drivers in the act of texting while driving. Teens are among the worst offenders and many say they will not change their habits even if legislation makes it illegal. One teen said, "Nobody is going to listen."

California Highway Patrol spokesman Fran Clader said, "The handheld cell phone is relatively easy for us to spot, we can see when somebody has their phone up to their ear. But with the texting it's a little bit more of a challenge to catch them in the act, because we have to see it and if they are holding it down in their lap it's going to be harder for us to see."

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By Flunk on 12/30/2009 12:13:35 PM , Rating: 3
This is already illegal in much of europe and parts of Canada. I doubt it will take long until it's illegal in the US too.

RE: Mmmm
By iFX on 12/30/09, Rating: -1
RE: Mmmm
By wrekd on 12/30/2009 2:18:20 PM , Rating: 5
I agree with you. It would be completely out of the scope of the constitution for a Federal ban for all citizens. Of course most of the laws from the past few decades are out of scope as well, but that didn't stop them from passing.

Federal drug laws and universal healthcare are completely unconstitutional by virtue of the 10th Amendment.

In this case the Big Boss is just laying down a policy (Executive Order) for his employees.

I think you’re being voted down because of the foreigner shot though.

RE: Mmmm
By DEVGRU on 12/30/2009 3:35:09 PM , Rating: 3
Ban on Texting and Driving for Federal Workers Starts Today

...In other news, AT&T reports a newly-discovered increase in available 3G bandwidth throughout the country. AT&T execs: "we're as baffled as you are!".

RE: Mmmm
By quiksilvr on 12/30/2009 9:31:35 PM , Rating: 2
But here is where I get confused. Why are there different laws for different states? Why is it legal for medicinal marijuana in one state and illegal in the next? Why are driving laws different? Why are criminal laws different? Shouldn't the law be universal and the punishment?

I honestly need some examples why this is the case so that I can get a better understanding as to why there aren't universal laws throughout the board.

RE: Mmmm
By MamiyaOtaru on 12/31/2009 12:51:16 AM , Rating: 2
States don't always agree on everything. Red states don't always want the sam thing as blue states. Simple as that.

RE: Mmmm
By roostitup on 12/31/2009 2:22:42 AM , Rating: 2
The point of states is to have some amount of autonomy within one Federal Government. Many states have different viewpoints than others and by forcing them all to agree to only one set of federal government laws is taking away the rights of the states to govern themselves. For the most part there are liberal and conservative states, each one preferring a different set of rules that they have been given the right to set independently from the federal government.

There actually are universal laws throughout the board, it's the constitution and the many bills and acts the go through congress. In terms of medical marijuana the federal government has made it illegal, but if an individual state allows it than it makes it much more difficult for the federal government to put their foot in. Granted, they still do arrest these legal users/growers to a certain extent. The federal government has been keeping out of states rights about medical marijuana much more lately. It's all very complicated.

RE: Mmmm
By Flunk on 12/30/2009 4:54:45 PM , Rating: 1
Your comment about representative government is non-sensical. Texting while driving is illegal because the people wanted it made illegal. Not because of some overwhelming goverment power.

Texting while driving has shown to greatly increase distractions to the driver on the road. If you can come up with an actual argument as to why it shouldn't be illegal instead of a slippy-slope falacy, please do so.

RE: Mmmm
By LRonaldHubbs on 12/30/2009 5:31:16 PM , Rating: 2
You missed the point. He wasn't arguing that it shouldn't be banned, he was pointing out that the federal government does not have the authority to institute a ban because that right belongs to the state and local governments. If you can come up with an actual counter argument to this point that doesn't involve straw-man tactics, please do so.

RE: Mmmm
By dagamer34 on 12/30/2009 6:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, just like how the federal government couldn't legally force the drinking age to 21. But that doesn't mean they won't pull a "stop federal funding for highways" if X state decides not to agree to their terms. That's why Louisiana roads are reportedly so crappy, they held out the longest.

RE: Mmmm
By Hoser McMoose on 1/2/2010 1:57:49 PM , Rating: 1
If you're looking for a Federal law banning texting while driving it isn't going to happen, mostly because our Federal government doesn't have the authority to institute such a ban.

As an FYI, this is true for Canada as well. Laws regarding motor vehicles, among many other things, are covered by Provincial law, not Federal.

It may surprise some people but Canada (and some European countries as well) are less centrally-run than the U.S. is. Now obviously doing a direct one-to-one comparison is difficult, but the best bet is simply too look at the money. Compare the proportion of revenue and expenditures for Federal vs. local (state/provincial/whatever) governments in the U.S. vs. Canada.

For an even less centrally-run country look at Switzerland sometime. Now THAT is a heavily distributed democracy with virtually all the power lying in the hands of regional governments and only a VERY weak central government.

RE: Mmmm
By blowfish on 12/30/2009 1:12:27 PM , Rating: 2
but the time it's taking for legislation against it in the US is testament to the lobbying power of the Telcoms! How many more people need to die before something is done? If the accidents were only between cell-phone using drivers, you might regard it as natural selection, and beneficial - but unfortunately innocents are also involved.

Down here in hill-billy land, people are bad enough drivers to begin with. It's not uncommon to see women putting on makeup whilst driving, and very few drivers seem to know what a turn indicator is for. Now it seems the default is also to have a cell phone clamped firmly to your ear whilst driving. At least they can't put on mascara at the same time! As for texting whilst driving - now that is insane, about the same level as smoking at the gas station.

RE: Mmmm
By marvdmartian on 12/30/2009 1:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty much all of DoD has had a ban on use of cell phones while driving on base for a while now, which should have included texting.

Sadly, where I work, the worst offenders (or, at least, the most visible offenders) seem to be the base security patrols, who use their cell phones as a way to pass messages to each other while on patrol, without it going out over the "official" airwaves. More than once I've seen our security patrols driving with a cell phone up to their ear. Doughnut, anyone? [eyeroll]

The toughest part to enforcing this will be the people that can hold a phone in their lap & text, since there's no law that says you have to drive with your hands at the 10 & 2 position on the steering wheel.

It's a good idea, but for all practical purposes, un-enforceable.

RE: Mmmm
By Bateluer on 12/30/2009 2:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
Been illegal for anyone to text or talk on a cell phone while driving on any US military installation.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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