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10/2/2009
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Federal Workers Banned From Texting While Driving

The ban on texting, sending e-mails, or using instant messaging programs while using a government vehicle aims to cut down on accidents.

In an effort to cut down on accidents, President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning federal workers from texting while driving on official business or while operating a government vehicle.

The ban will also include sending e-mails, using instant messaging programs, and obtaining navigational information while driving. The order will impact nearly three million civilian employees, but some law enforcement and national security workers will be exempt.

"Text messaging causes drivers to take their eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel, endangering both themselves and others," the order said.

The ban comes as multiple states and the District of Columbia already have laws in place that ban sending SMS messages or e-mails while operating a motor vehicle. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also introduced legislation earlier this year that would make states ban texting while driving or face reductions in federal highway funds. This legislation received a major boost when Ford became the first major automaker to endorse it.

The focus on texting while driving comes after various high-profile accidents stemming from sending mobile messages while driving. Additionally, a recent study released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said texting while driving is far more dangerous than making calls; the practice increased truck drivers' risk of a crash more than 23 times.

Texting continues to be a major revenue source for the wireless carriers, as the CTIA said the number of SMS messages has increased tenfold over the last three years. Verizon Wireless has expressed support for the legislation banning texting while driving nationwide, while AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile have also been supportive, in general, of laws banning the practice.


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