The plan was part of a series of actions announced this afternoon by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the conclusion of a two-day summit on distracted driving in Washington, D.C.
The DOT plans to create three separate rulemakings that would consider:
* Making permanent restrictions on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices in rail operations.
* Banning text messaging altogether, and restrict the use of cell phones by truck and interstate bus operators.
* Disqualifying school bus drivers convicted of texting while driving, from maintaining their commercial driver's licenses.
Last night, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they're on official government business. The order also encourages federal contractors and others doing business with the government to adopt and enforce their own policies banning texting while driving on the job.
LaHood also called on state and local governments to work with the DOT to make distracted driving part of their state highway plans, and to continue to pass state and local laws against distracted driving in all types of vehicles. He also pledged to continue the Department's research on how to best combat distracted driving. As part of this pledge, the Department will launch a new demonstration program this year to evaluate techniques that states can use to get the most out of their efforts to end this destructive behavior.
The two-day summit brought together safety experts, researchers, industry representatives, elected officials and members of the public who shared their expertise, experiences and ideas for reducing distracted driving behavior and addressed the safety risk posed by this growing problem across all modes of transportation. Speakers from around the nation led interactive sessions on a number of key topics including the extent and impact of distracted driving, current research, regulations and best practices. Individuals from 49 states participated in the summit via the web.
"Keeping Americans safe is without question the federal government's highest priority - and that includes safety on the road, as well as on mass transit and rail," said Secretary LaHood. "I'm greatly encouraged by the work accomplished at this summit. Working together, we're going to make sure that traveling in America is as safe as it can possibly be and I strongly encourage the public to take personal responsibility for their behavior and show a healthy respect for the rules of the road."
To watch Secretary LaHood's video blog on distracted driving visit www.dot.gov. The full webcast of the summit will be available on the DOT site later this week.