President Obama Signs Executive Order Banning Federal Employees from Texting While Driving

ABC News has learned that President Obama signed an executive order last night banning federal employees from text-messaging while on government business, driving government vehicles or using government equipment. The executive order also directs executive departments and agencies to encourage contractors and contractor employees to adopt and enforce policies to ban texting while driving on official government business. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will announce the executive order in his closing remarks later today wrapping up the two-day Distracted Driving Summit. "This order sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable," LaHood will say. LaHood will also outline some wider concrete actions to combat what he called the "epidemic of distracted driving." "To put it plainly, distracted driving is a menace to society," LaHood said at the opening of the summit yesterday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that last year 15% of driver deaths in the US -- 5,870 people -- were as a result of distracted driving. It's unclear how many of those incidents were related to texting while driving, though the phenomenon is considered to be growing and serious. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that drivers that use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Legislation being considered on the Hill would withhold 25 percent of federal highway dollars from states that fail to ban texting while driving. Currently, Washington, DC, and eighteen states ban hand-held texting by drivers. -jpt

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