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Ban on texting while driving

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Alex Hortin
  • 43rd Communications Squadron
On Oct. 1, President Barack Obama signed an executive order restricting federal employees from text messaging while driving. The order defines text messaging as "reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device, including for the purpose of SMS texting, e-mailing, instant messaging, obtaining navigational information or engaging in any other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication." 

The order states that anyone driving a vehicle owned, leased or rented by the government, any privately-owned vehicle on official government business or federal employees using government-supplied electronics must abide by the new order.
Government contractors and subcontractors are not required to comply yet but are heavily encouraged to adopt and enforce policies that ban text messaging. 

A recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that drivers who text behind the wheel were 23 times more likely to have a collision. To put this into perspective, having a conversation on a cell phone only puts the driver's risk at 1.3 times as high as non-distracted drivers. These figures can be largely attributed to the amount of times drivers take their eyes off the road to complete each task. Researchers found that when writing a text message, the driver's eyes were off the road an average of 4.6 seconds per 6 second interval. If a driver is going 55 miles an hour, it is possible to drive the length of a football field without even looking at the road. 

Text messaging is garnering a lot of media attention recently as several train and bus crashes have been attributed to drivers being distracted by messaging devices. There are currently 13 states that ban all drivers from text messaging, and six more whose laws come into effect by January 2010. North Carolina's ban goes into effect Dec. 1 making it illegal to send or receive any text messages while driving. The use of a cell phone, without a hands free device, while operating a vehicle on any Air Force installation is prohibited under AFI 91-207. 

President Barack Obama's executive order can be read in its entirety at