GSA to feds: Don’t talk and drive

The General Services Administration last week told federal agencies to urge their employees not to talk on hand-held wireless phones while driving vehicles owned or leased by the federal government. While GSA did not ban talking on hand-held cell phones while driving altogether, it recommended that agencies discourage the use of cell phones by drivers of federal vehicles. As one solution, GSA recommended that agencies provide a hands-free car kit with government owned wireless phones and educate employees on how to drive safely while using them. "It is appropriate that the federal government assume a leadership role in promoting the safe use of wireless telephones by its employees when they are engaged in official government business," GSA said in a bulletin published in the Federal Register Friday. Legislation pending in 27 states would ban hand-held wireless phones while driving. New York state has already approved such a ban. In general, federal employees are not exempt from state and local laws dealing with motor vehicles, and agencies should be aware of the potential for increased liability from accidents caused by the use of wireless hand-held phones, GSA said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has several studies under way of such driver distractions as cell phone use. GSA plans to keep agencies informed on the findings and any changes in federal policy on cell phone use, the bulletin said.