New Sample Bill to Aid States in Banning Texting While Driving
WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled sample legislation Feb. 22 to be used as a starting point for states crafting new laws to prohibit texting while behind-the-wheel, the latest step in the campaign against distracted driving.
The sample state law, prepared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a cross-section of safety and industry organizations, would authorize law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle and issue a citation to drivers who are texting while driving.
The sample state law is patterned on the Executive Order issued by President Obama on Oct. 1, 2009, directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment. Federal employees were required to comply with the ban starting on Dec. 30, 2009.
In addition, on Jan. 26, Secretary LaHood announced federal guidance to prohibit texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.
Secretary LaHood announced the department's plan to pursue this regulatory action at the Distracted Driving Summit he convened in September 2009. The department recently launched a federal Web site, www.distraction.gov, as a forum and information clearinghouse. Distraction.gov is a source of comprehensive information on distracted driving.
Currently, nineteen States and the District of Columbia have texting laws covering all drivers. In 2009, more than 200 distracted driving bills were considered by State legislatures and legislative activity is expected to remain strong in 2010.
Click here to see the sample bill and the groups that participated in drafting it.