Feds Aim to Crack Down on Texting Bus Drivers


A forthcoming federal rulemaking will seek to disqualify school bus drivers convicted of texting while driving from maintaining their commercial driver’s licenses.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the action in a two-day summit devoted to the topic of distracted driving in all modes of transportation.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will also create a rulemaking that will consider banning text messaging and restricting the use of cell phones by truck and interstate bus operators.

Another rulemaking would consider making permanent restrictions on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices in rail operations.

LaHood called on state and local governments to work with the DOT to reduce fatalities and crashes by making distracted driving part of their state highway plans, and by continuing to pass state and local laws against distracted driving in all types of vehicles, especially school buses.

But the federal government also moved to set an example by its own actions. President Obama signed an executive order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging when driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or when 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.

“This order sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable,” LaHood said. “I fully expect that all 58,000 DOT employees and contractors will take this order seriously.”

The 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.

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. People from 49 states participated in the summit via the Web.

The summit also featured a discussion with Seventeen magazine Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket and young adults that explored the dangers of texting and driving.

High school classrooms across the country tuned into the youth-geared program and heard insights from Reggie Shaw, 22, and Nicole Meredith, 18, both of whom caused car crashes because they were texting while behind the wheel.

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