Nov 11 2009
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning all federal workers from texting while driving on government business, driving government vehicles or using government equipment.
The Obama administration also said it will seek to ban text messaging by interstate bus drivers and truckers and push states to pass their own laws against driving cars while distracted.
LaHood said the administration also would move to put restrictions on cell phone use by rail operators, truck drivers and interstate bus drivers.
While texting is not yet illegal in Las Vegas, it is in Utah. There currently is legislation being pushed to ban texting in Nevada.
Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said of cell phone driving legislation: “Knowing our Legislature, it will have a tough time. Nevadans are independent and like their liberties.”
“Driving while distracted should just feel wrong – just as driving without a seat belt or driving while intoxicated,” LaHood said at the end of a two-day conference on the problem. “We’re not going to break everyone of their bad habits – but we are going to raise awareness and sharpen the consequences.”
The administration also will push to disqualify school bus drivers who are convicted of texting while driving from keeping their commercial driver’s licenses.
The Transportation Department reported that 5,870 people were killed and 515,000 were injured last year in crashes connected to driver distraction, often involving mobile devices or cell phones. Driver distraction was involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 and was more prevalent among young drivers.
“It’s like driving with your eyes closed,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a proponent of a texting ban.