U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today marked the effective date of President Obama’s Executive Order on distracted driving, which prohibits more than four million federal employees from texting behind the wheel while working or while using government vehicles and communications devices.
While this remains a small, largely symbolic step in addressing a deadly and growing problem, federal safety regulators under LaHood’s management continue to delay meaningful action on regulations that would ban the use of any electronic devices while driving or operating any type of vehicle or airplane. Powerful economic interests, including electronic device and cell phone makers and service providers, as well as automakers and software companies such as Microsoft oppose such regulation.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured. On any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.
“Every time we climb into the driver’s seat, we all have a responsibility for keeping our roads safe by putting away cell phones and other distractions,” said Secretary LaHood. “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.”