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The Obama administration on Thursday issued an executive order banning federal employees from text messaging while driving on government business.
"This order sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "It shows that the federal government is leading by example."
Released at the end of a two-day distracted driving summit in Washington, the order applies to federal employees operating government-owned vehicles or driving privately owned vehicles on government business. It also bans the use of government-supplied electronic equipment while driving. Federal contractors are encouraged to implement similar restrictions.
Agencies will be required to outline specific steps to implement the ban, including disciplinary actions for employees caught texting while driving. The order directs agencies to evaluate existing driving safety education and awareness programs and consider expanding these efforts in coordination with a stricter texting policy.
The General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management will assist the Transportation Department in guiding the order's implementation and enforcement in agencies.
Texting while driving is illegal in 18 states and the District of Columbia.