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Executive Order Bars Federal Workers From Texting and Driving 236

Posted by timothy
from the also-walking-chewing-gum-and-surgery dept.
CWmike writes "A two-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington concluded Thursday, after experts raised multiple thorny questions on how to reduce cell phone and texting while driving, with a big emphasis placed on driver and employer responsibility. But that was not before President Obama signed an executive order that tells all federal employees not to engage in texting while driving government vehicles. [US Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood also announced that his department would ban text messaging altogether and restrict cell phone use by truck and interstate bus drivers, and disqualify school bus drivers from receiving commercial driver's licenses if they have been convicted of texting while driving. His department also plans to make permanent some restrictions placed on the use of cell phones in rail operations, he added without offering further details. The executive order 'shows the federal government is leading by example' and 'sends a signal that distracted driving is dangerous,' LaHood said."
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Obama Bars Federal Workers From Texting and Driving

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  • "Executive Order Bars Federal Workers From Texting and Driving"

    " But that was not before President Obama signed an executive order that tells all federal employees not to engage in texting while driving government vehicles."

    Why not "texting or driving" next time? "The last time I looked in a dictionary, "or" was no closer to "while" than "and".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandersen (462034)

      The last time I looked in a dictionary, "or" was no closer to "while" than "and".

      Perhaps you need another dictionary, or maybe you should look more carefully. According to Wiktionary:

      While and whilst are conjunctions whose primary meaning is "during the time that"

      IOW, it means (or implies) "at the same time as"; thus, "I text while I am driving" means "I text and drive at the same time". To most users of the English language, the sentence "I text or drive at the same time" doesn't make much meaning. Ergo, "while" has a good deal to do with "and", and not so much with "or"; some would even say that they are functionally equivalent.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Texting and driving" is an analogy to "drinking and driving", which does not mean "drinking while driving" but driving under the influence of alcohol intoxication (which is long enough to justify the less precise expression "drinking and driving"). Barring federal workers from texting and driving can be interpreted as barring federal workers from texting and barring federal workers from driving. If the author had meant to express that federal workers are barred from texting while driving, why didn't he wri

      • Perhaps you need another dictionary, or maybe you should look more carefully.

        I'm looking into my SOED very carefully, and yet I have a really hard time trying to spot it.

        IOW, it means (or implies) "at the same time as"; thus, "I text while I am driving" means "I text and drive at the same time". To most users of the English language, the sentence "I text or drive at the same time" doesn't make much meaning.

        Reading comprehension fail? I should have used a sarcasm tag.

        Ergo, "while" has a good deal to do with "and", and not so much with "or"; some would even say that they are functionally equivalent.

        Yes, some would, the recipients of negative imperative sentences being some of the most prominent. :-)

    • Re:Lame headline? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sique (173459) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:33AM (#29615471) Homepage

      Because the conjunction A v B is only true when A and B both are true, while A ^ B is true if at least one of A and B is true.

      So it is forbidden now to do both A and B at the same time, while Texting itself and Driving itself are still allowed. Thus only (A v B) is forbidden, but (A ^ B) is still allowed if (not A B).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FlyingBishop (1293238)

        Um... Ok I'll bite... I think you have the symbols for "and" and "or" backwards [wikipedia.org]

        But other than that, you are quite right.

      • So the last time your mother forbade you as a teen to take drugs and drink, you took some drugs and argued that you were not drinking at the same time?
        • Don't be ridiculous. "and" and "or" can be logical operators. The can also be used to enumerate members of a set. You are expected to know which is which based on context, as anyone over the age of four should be competent to figure out. You're not dumber than a four year old, are you?

    • by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:51AM (#29615593)
      Why not "texting or driving" next time? "The last time I looked in a dictionary, "or" was no closer to "while" than "and".

      Hand in your geek card.

      if(employee.is_texting && employee.is_driving)
      {
      fire(employee);
      }

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:30AM (#29615891)

        Unfortunately, there was a serious bug in this program. Due to namespace issues, fragile base class problems, etc, the call was mapped to Kiln::fire() rather than Employer::fire(). It is regrettable that this has resulted in a substantial loss of life. Appropriate steps have been taken to improve coding standards and developer training to ensure that this won't happen again.

      • Would you be willing to trade your linguist card for my geek card? :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:23AM (#29615423)

    In this case, the Executive Order applies to employees of the Federal Government. That sounds like an employer taking responsibility by stating company policy for employees when they are driving employer-owned vehicles. When those same people are driving their own cars on their own time they are still free to be fucking morons and kill themselves.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:01AM (#29616257)

      That sounds like an employer taking responsibility by stating company policy for employees when they are driving employer-owned vehicles. When those same people are driving their own cars on their own time they are still free to be fucking morons and kill themselves.

      And kill others. Which is why this is kind of odd, since it's not just the vehicle that's put at risk.

  • by salmacis2 (643788) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:27AM (#29615439)
    What? Texting and driving isn't already illegal in the USA? It's illegal in the UK, and quite right too. A car is a lethal weapon if you are not paying attention - and it's impossible to compose a text message while simultaneously maintain the necessary level of attention to driving.
    • by clickety6 (141178) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:34AM (#29615473)

      and it's impossible to compose a text message while simultaneously maintain the necessary level of attention to driving.

      Rubbish! I'm writing this on my iPhone right now and I am safely in control of this vehic

       

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Svartalf (2997)

      Texting probably is- I'd think it was covered under reckless driving statutes.

      You'd think it was a foregone conclusion, really, that this was a BAD thing to do- but people do it right along with the trying to drive whilst the phone's up to the head. But noooo....

    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:38AM (#29615497)

      It's illegal where I live (New York) even though I've seen people obviously texting while they're driving. Many states, though, are having problems passing bans because some people think it is a "personal rights" issue. They fail to realize, however, that while you might have the right to take a chance with your life due to texting while driving, you don't have the right to take chances with other people's rights. If you cross the center line and plow into another car head on because you just *had* to reply to your friend's incoming text message, you could wind up killing people other than yourself. (There was a story on NPR where this exact thing happened. The twenty year old who was texting killed a parent and child and he survived.)

      Personally, I think it is sad that we even need to ban it. It should be a common sense thing that you shouldn't be looking at your phone to compose a text while you're driving. If you really need to text, pull over, send the text, then start back up. If you really need to talk with the person, get a hands-free set and call them. (Yes, being engaged in a phone conversation is still distracting, but it is less distracting than looking away from the road for a few seconds to type and send a text message.

      • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:50AM (#29615575)

        > Personally, I think it is sad that we even need to ban it.

        That's the really silly part... we don't need to ban it. Just about any sane jurisdiction that allows driving already has laws against various forms of reckless or distracted driving. Before cell phones, our parents and grandparents were dealing with people driving while shaving, reading newspapers, having sex (partner optional), applying makeup, eating, beating the kids, etc. This stuff isn't new, and if we aren't enforcing the laws already on the books, creating a new law isn't going to do a damn thing except (maybe) raise awareness of the issue.

        c.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          Legislators make new laws so that us peons vent our wrath arguing over the merits of the laws, rather than over the merits of having legislators at all.

          That's not much of a damn thing, but it does explain why the statute book always grows.

        • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@noSpAm.yahoo.com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:20AM (#29615803) Journal

          Actually, it turns out that's not the case. I thought it was too, until a recent Slashdot discussion where someone corrected me. I've since done a little more research and found this chart published by the AAA: http://www.aaapublicaffairs.com/Assets/Files/20099111616410.DistractedDrivingLaws.doc [aaapublicaffairs.com] (warning: Word doc, not HTML or PDF for some reason).

          Only four states ban "distracted driving", and various other combinations of states ban texting, talking on a phone, or other specific actions. There are only two states (Ohio and Wisconsin) that don't ban any of these behaviors. As for the rest, it's a hodgepodge of restrictions. It's worth checking out the link to make sure you know what your state does, and does not, ban.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            All states ban driving in an unsafe manner. States with "driving while distracted" laws are on the way to the same stupid proliferation of laws that leads to "no texting" laws. If someone can drive so well and hold their phone against the wheel such that you can't tell they're texting, you don't need to stop them. Otherwise, it's pretty much always obvious; the guy who is driving like he's got lag needs to be checked out. If it turns out he was on his phone at the time, he should be given a ticket, not for

        • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:43AM (#29616035)

          That's the really silly part... we don't need to ban it. Just about any sane jurisdiction that allows driving already has laws against various forms of reckless or distracted driving.

          I'm so sick of people making this argument every time this topic comes up. To penalize texting while driving under the current law, you would have to haul each offender into court, and each and every time try to prove to a jury that texting is indeed distracted driving. Huge amounts of resources would be wasted doing this over and over again. Each time it would be fought tooth-and-nail by slick and clever defense lawyers who would bring in all sorts of pseudo statistics to try raise doubts that texting while driving has been 100% air-tight proven to be dangerous. Remember how they convinced a jury that OJ wasn't guilty?

          A specific law would point out that texting while driving == distracted driving, no ifs, ands or buts. This fact would not have to be re-proven in every case. Pay the ticket, move on, and don't do it again.

          • by D Ninja (825055)

            A specific law would point out that texting while driving == distracted driving, no ifs, ands or buts. This fact would not have to be re-proven in every case. Pay the ticket, move on, and don't do it again.

            I am not a lawyer, but I don't think this would have to be proven for every case. First off, precedence would play a big part into this. Secondly, there is no "proof" that speeding is necessarily dangerous (and, it really isn't up to certain speeds - difference in speed is the issue), yet they still smack down tickets left and right without any challenge. So, I think your worry really isn't a valid one. If an officer says, "They were texting and driving and I felt that they were being a reckless towards

          • by kimvette (919543)

            A lot of police cars have cameras already; all they need to prove is:

            * failure to maintain control of the vehicle
            * improper lane changes
            * driving left of center
            * failure to yield
            * driving >10mph under the limit
            * reckless driving

            In the cases I see where someone is texting and is not capable of multitasking, they are violating MULTIPLE laws already. It's very easy to prove violations of those existing laws when the police cars have cameras on board. Texting l

        • by Ost99 (101831)

          Just about any sane jurisdiction that allows driving already has laws against various forms of reckless or distracted driving.

          Reckless or distracted driving is (somewhat) subjective, those laws will only be used when something happens.
          If you want the problem to go away, you need to pull people over for doing it and the fine must be substantial.

          Where I live the fine is $200 for using a phone without handsfree while driving (roughly one fine pr 500 inhabitants were handed out last year).
          Unfortunately that doesn't seem like a high enough fine to get people to change their behavior. It might help if the fine was raised to the same lev

      • by L0rdJedi (65690)

        If you really need to text, pull over, send the text, then start back up.

        Isn't New York one of those places where if you're even in your car, on the side of the road and on the phone, they'll still give you a ticket?

      • Hey Politicians, stuff like this is already illegal. Bear with me now:

        If you cross the center line and plow into another car head on because you just *had* to reply to your friend's incoming text message, you could wind up killing people other than yourself.

        Driving left of center is illegal (unless legally passing) in the United States. it is a citable offense. Why not enforce existing laws on the books? It will generate a lot of revenue and save lives, and people will learn on their second, third, etc. off

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have heard that laws against texting / talking on the phone / whatever while driving do not actually cause there to be less accidents. People will continue to do so. However, the only thing that does change is the amount of revenue generated from traffic violations.

      My ideal system for dealing with texting / drinking / $distraction while driving would go like this: Once you've hit someone while being distracted or intoxicated, they get you not only for whatever injuries and damages you do, but also get y
      • I have heard that laws against texting / talking on the phone / whatever while driving do not actually cause there to be less accidents.

        I've heard that listening to unsourced claims by anonymous cowards on Slashdot may be hazardous to your brain functions.

        My ideal system for dealing with texting / drinking / $distraction while driving would go like this: Once you've hit someone while being distracted or intoxicated, they get you not only for whatever injuries and damages you do, but also get you for criminal negligence.

        That's lovely, unless you're the guy who got dead because no-one pulled the driver for doing something obviously dangerous before the accident.

        I propose an alternative approach: anyone who drives a vehicle that is likely to cause a fatality in a collision, and who is demonstrably not properly alert and in control of that vehicle for any reason, should be treated the same way as someone who

        • AKAIK negligent/intoxicated driving that results in a death attracts a charge of manslaghter here in Oz, I suspect it would in the UK also.
      • and *my* ideal would be to take advantage of the silicon revolution and get the driver out of the equation.

      • "Once you've hit someone while being distracted or intoxicated..."

        ...it's too late for justice, all your left with is heartfelt remorse and state sponsered revenge.

        "My ideal system for dealing with texting / drinking / $distraction..."

        I don't understand your problem with what amounts to a stupidity tax but my ideal would be to install a jamming device into the cars of people caught using a mobile, at their own expense of course.
    • It's illegal in the UK, and quite right too.

      Well, saying it's illegal is reasonable enough, but one could argue that it should be covered by general laws about driving without paying proper attention.

      The problem with making a specific law against using hand-held phones is that it led to a wave of advertising about how you should buy a hands-free kit to stay safe while you're driving. Some large advertising used literally those words.

      Unfortunately, statistically, using a hands-free kit is almost as dangerous as using a handheld kit, and the new law w

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Unfortunately, statistically, using a hands-free kit is almost as dangerous as using a handheld kit, and the new law was used by advertisers to condone it.

        Do you have a citation for that? The study I saw showed that using a hands free kit had the same effect on your reaction time, which is not the same thing. Someone with one hand on their phone has a greater response time for anything that they need to do with that hand and someone holding the phone with their shoulder has reduced visibility (because they can't turn their head so much). Neither of these was addressed by the study.

        • Do you have a citation for that?

          Sorry, I'm not clear which part you meant.

          If you mean the danger of using hands-free, then I agree that a similar change in reaction time is not necessarily the same as as similar change in the overall danger, and clearly the physical limitation of a hand-held device does make the latter worse. This is why I only wrote "almost as dangerous".

          The main thing I'm going on in writing "almost" was an experiment (conducted IIRC by the RAC, for a TV documentary around the time the law was passed here) where people

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blueg3 (192743)

        Unfortunately, statistically, using a hands-free kit is almost as dangerous as using a handheld kit, and the new law was used by advertisers to condone it.

        The real question is, how do you send text messages with a hands-free kit?

    • by corbettw (214229)

      What? Texting and driving isn't already illegal in the USA? It's illegal in the UK, and quite right too.

      It's absurd to compare the USA to the UK in this type of situation. It's much more accurate to compare our national government to the EU. Under our Federal system of government, most laws like this are supposed to be handled by individual states, not the central government. That doesn't mean that Congress won't pass some stupid law, only that they shouldn't bother getting involved in minutiae.

      There's an argument to be made that since the Federal government pays for much of the maintenance on the interstate

    • by schwanerhill (135840) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:27AM (#29615875)

      Re "Just federal employees": The president can ban federal employees from texting while driving for work (or having cream in their coffee while on the job, for that matter, if he so chose) by an executive order. Banning all drivers from texting would take an act of a legislature, and this sort of thing is typically done by state law, not federal law. Congress can effectively force states to enact highway laws like this by withholding federal highway funds.

      Congress may get there soon, but it takes more time.

    • What? Texting and driving isn't already illegal in the USA? It's illegal in the UK, and quite right too. A car is a lethal weapon if you are not paying attention - and it's impossible to compose a text message while simultaneously maintain the necessary level of attention to driving.

      But we're constantly getting conflicting messages on what to do [thedailyshow.com] from our media! How are we supposed to know what's right and what's wrong?!?
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      It's illegal in many states, but by no means all of them. This is about a Federal mandate that the states all outlaw it.

  • 'bout time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:28AM (#29615447) Homepage

    Now the more interesting question is how you enforce this.

    For starters, I think they're going to have to punish managers who want their people available 24x7x365. If you ban cell phone use and texting by federal employees while driving, and the federal employees in question are driving home, you're just going to have to wait. Which shouldn't be a problem - if it is a real problem then you haven't properly trained backup personnel to cover for the guy who's driving home, which means that if he slams into a tree due to texting you're all going to be in much bigger trouble.

    This came up in a discussion on another site, and a doctor pointed out "If I can get to the side of the road and stop to handle what could easily be a life-or-death emergency, you can get to the side of the road and stop to handle whatever you're dealing with."

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      You don't have to ban use of the voice function while driving. Just mandate that they can't do it without using a proper speakerphone mode or other hands-free.

      Most of the phones this lot use have Bluetooth as a feature- there's little excuse for not having a "Borg implant" or using a speakerphone device on the visor that ties to their phone while they're driving.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by characterZer0 (138196)

        Using a hands-free is only slightly less dangerous than holding a phone to your head.

        The problem is no so much the occupied hand as the distracted brain.

        • I can talk to hands free, I can talk to a passenger but a mobile to my ear is down right dangerous and I stopped doing it of my own accord in the nineties. I found myself unconsiously averting my eyes upwards when I had to think about what was being said on the mobile. I don't know why a mobile is worse, perhaps it's a pavlov dog thing since when you have a phone to your ear you are normally trying to block out your surroundings.

          Having said that, talking to a passenger is an experience thing, you have to
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by schwanerhill (135840)

            I don't know why a mobile is worse, perhaps it's a pavlov dog thing since when you have a phone to your ear you are normally trying to block out your surroundings.

            I suspect a big part of it is that passengers are present and can see what's going on on the road.

            When there's traffic that needs attention and I, as the driver, get distracted from the conversation I'm having with my passenger, the passenger understands why I'm distracted from the conversation without the need for me to explain why. When talking

            • I like that theory! To summarise - The social interaction in a car uses different unspoken rules to those found in a lounge room, which are different again to those used on a phone. Swapping contexts is dangerous because the brain starts unconsiously using the wrong attention pattern for driving.
          • The audio quality on phones is quite poor. It takes a lot more brain power to parse language from a poor quality source than from a high-quality source, like the person sitting next to you.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Firemouth (1360899)
        It doesn't matter. If you're distracted, the method of the distraction doesn't matter. If they're calling you, odds are its not a "ok is the computer plugged in?". The call is probably going to require some kind of thought, which means your brain isn't focusing on the dynamic traffic conditions. If someone slams on their brakes in front of you, and you're distracted, there's a good chance you won't see them braking before its too late. I say "distracted" not "on the phone" because there have always bee
        • I used to work the night shift and when driving home one summers night under a bright moon a spider leapt from the visor on a single silk thread. It paused for maybe a second in front of my face, just long enough for me to focus and regognise what it was. I could swear I saw a tiny smirk before it abruptly absailed down through my open overalls and into the croutch region.

          I spent my youth working in the Aussie bush, spiders don't bother me. However the surprise factor of seeing it hover and then dive int
        • I haven't seen a ranked list of distractions in a while, but when the debate was going on in the early aughts, AAA had a list of "causes of distracted driving" on which cell phone was somewhere around #7 or #10, and "food or beverage" was #1, by like an order of magnitude.

          IOW, we're not going after the low hanging fruit first, which bewilders me.

          • by D Ninja (825055)

            IOW, we're not going after the low hanging fruit first, which bewilders me.

            It's because it's not popular and in people's faces right now.

            Food is something people have been dealing with in the car since cars first came around. It's something we're familiar with and it's not new. Secondly, going after "food distractions" would most definitely not make a politician popular. As such, no politician would touch that with a 10 foot pole. Texting while driving, however, is something that is pretty obviously stupid, and that has a lot of support from the general public as something tha

    • by Skater (41976)
      This is more of a retroactive thing, I assume. If you work for the federal gov't, and cause an accident that's the result of you texting while driving on official time, you can be fired for conduct problems (and it's easy to remove people for conduct problems - it's performance problems that are difficult to deal with).
    • Most states have this in place with heavy fines. It's bad enough that people talk on the phone while driving let alone text.

      The only way I see them being caught, is for them to have a car wreck which they sure as hell probably will if they text and drive. Maybe the feds will have the added bonus of loosing your job. So it's probably not if but when they wreck if they text.

    • by D Ninja (825055)

      For starters, I think they're going to have to punish managers who want their people available 24x7x365.

      Give me a break. I don't know any SANE human being that expects someone to literally be available 24x7x365. If you have a manger like that, you have much bigger issues to worry about. It is quite obvious that texting and driving is stupid - the enforcement does not need to go past, "You made the decision to do it - I don't care what your boss wants or doesn't want."

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by david@ecsd.com (45841) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:32AM (#29615467) Homepage
    I find it absolutely amazing that you have to have the president of the United States tell adults that texting while driving is a bad idea. It's bad enough that even in the small city where I live every day is another near crash with some jackass with their effing phone glued to their ear, blithely unaware of their surroundings.

    I wish it were just teenagers, but these are adults who should know better. If you get in your car, turn the bitch off. Full stop. What really gets me is the douche bags who rationalize what they're doing because, "it's just for a couple of seconds," or, "I'm good at multitasking." Sure, whatever, you bet. Learn how to use your damn voice mail because nothing is that important.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by schwanerhill (135840)

      Learn how to use your damn voice mail because nothing is that important.

      And if it is that damn important, pull over to the side of the road.

      On a serious note, this order really does have some practical benefit because if a federal employee has something that is important enough that it has to be dealt with while driving, the employee can pull over, make the phone call, and the employee's boss will have no justification to complain about the employee being 5 minutes late for whatever appointment s/he was driving to. If the boss complains, the employee has a written policy to cit

  • I don't think anyone is going to say that texting while driving is a good idea, but it is already against the law. There are laws against reckless driving, and these would include things like texting while driving. Why do we need more rules against something that is already against the rules? If someone is doing this, use the existing rules. Since this is specifically pointed out, does that mean eating lunch while driving is okay, since there isn't a rule specifically against it? What about reading a b

    • The problem, as was pointed out in the last article, is twofold:
      1. These laws are not well enforced. It is much easier to prosecute someone for speeding, for example, than dangerous driving because one has objective evidence while the other relies on subjective judgement.
      2. Potentially dangerous driving is not an offence. You can not be pulled over for doing something that might be dangerous (or, if you can, you are almost certain not to be convicted).

      The second of these is a major problem. Things like te

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      The problem with using reckless driving types laws is that they are too late. Once you are exhibiting a behavior which is reckless (lane changes, etc) the only thing that separates that from a accident is that no-one else had the misfortune of being there at the time. The purpose of texting bans, etc is to stop a behavior which is likely to be a problem BEFORE it is actually a problem.

      Broad laws are OK after the fact - you crashed, so it is reasonable to say you were reckless. Broad laws to prevent behav

      • The problem with using reckless driving types laws is that they are too late. Once you are exhibiting a behavior which is reckless (lane changes, etc) the only thing that separates that from a accident is that no-one else had the misfortune of being there at the time. The purpose of texting bans, etc is to stop a behavior which is likely to be a problem BEFORE it is actually a problem.

        How is a texting while driving law any different than a reckless driving law? The odds of a police officer being able to see that I am texting while driving is rather slim. All he can see is that I am looking down more than is safe (if that) or that my driving is erratic. So a texting while driving law is either, also, "too late", or no different than a reckless driving law enforced on behavior. do you really think that with these laws in place people will have their cellphones out by the time the officer g

        • by bws111 (1216812)
          That is true only if you only look at the enforcement side. However, the basic expectation of law is that people obey it, even if no-one is watching. If people are obeying the no-texting law, then they are not texting, and we are safer.
  • I am all for states passing laws for punishing the use of hands-on devices while driving, but this new rule set they want to push on states for commercial drivers is just draconian.

    Under current rules if you are convicted of one of the major offenses you loose your commerical license for 1 year. Such offenses include:Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, Hit and Run, Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test to determine the presence of drugs or an alcohol concentration.
    If you have two conv
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      So? It's hardly the sort of thing you do by accident...and if you're the sort of person who can't understand how stupid/dangerous it is then you don't deserve a license.

  • by gizmonic (302697) * on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:50AM (#29615587) Homepage

    Car and Driver published a study in which they compared reading and writing text messages with drunk driving. They only tested reaction times, not vehicle control. But, in general, reading and writing texts led to worse reaction times than being intoxicated. Decent and short read.

    http://tinyurl.com/candtextingwhiledriving [tinyurl.com]

    As another posted mentioned though, enforcement will be the real issue. Sounds like it will be more post crash cell phone log analysis to see if you were texting than anything they can pull you over for. Because unless you're doing it in a very obvious manner, there's no real way to tell you're doing it until you crash.

  • [US Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood also announced that his department would ban text messaging altogether

    Oh! Look! There was a baby in that thar water after all! Seriously, texting is a useful mean of asynchronous communication between workers who are not at their computers. Why ban it entirely? I totally agree with the driving ban, but a blanket ban just seem like someone trying to brown-nose to his boss without really understanding the purpose of the boss' new policy. I can see it now:

    President Obama and his senior staff are in a meeting:

    President: So on our latest driving while distract push, did everyo

    • It's part of Obama's Blackberry agenda; ban texting and make everyone get a Blackberry and send emails instead.
  • I don't text and drive any more, now that I have my Blackberry it's emailing and driving from now on.

  • Wow - what an AWESOME display of Obama's presidential powers!

  • "...The executive order 'shows the federal government is leading by example' and 'sends a signal that distracted driving is dangerous,' LaHood said."

    What a load of nonsense. I'm not arguing at all with the (relatively trivial) point about texting-while-driving being irresponsible and stupid.

    But what this shows is that the FEDERAL government is bogged down in stupid minutiae, and is essentially worthless. What's next, an executive order to make sure you don't run with scissors? Don't drink your coffee bef

  • over-specificity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Friday October 02, 2009 @11:00AM (#29616925) Homepage Journal

    disqualify school bus drivers from receiving commercial driver's licenses if they have been convicted of texting while driving

    Why not just ban commercial license to people convicted of Careless Driving? What is so special about texting?

    This reminds me of the kind of bullshit, where convicted "sex offenders" after they get out of jail, have special tracking restrictions (must register, wear a GPS anklet, whatever) -- but murderers and thieves don't. You can look at such a policy as being pro-protect-thing-children-from-rapists (who could be against that?), but you can also look at it as pro-murder-and-theft.

    Uniform fairness washes this kind of bullshit. If you deny commercial licenses to texting drivers but still give licenses to people who drove while masterbating, watching TV, turning around to shout at the kids in the back seat, etc. then you're pro-driving-while-masterbating. Ok, not really but do you see the problem?

    Singling out texting-while-driving is as stupid as outlawing crack while still allowing people to drink Drain-O. There are so many ways to fuck up and you'll never enumerate them all, so just cover the general case, dammit. The most this kind of crap can do, is create loopholes: show me the order's definition of "texting" and I'll put on my rules-lawyer-D&D-player cap and show you a way to pervert it and get around it, while doing something horrifically unsafe.

We want to create puppets that pull their own strings. - Ann Marion

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