- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Thursday called for new laws to crack down on using cellphone and similar devices when driving.

Mr. LaHood wants a permanent ban on using the devices to talk or send text messages for railroad operators, bus drivers and long-distance truckers.

He also said school bus drivers caught in such activities should lose their license.

Mr. LaHood made the recommendations follow a a two-day summit on the issue in Washington, D.C.

The recommendations were made the same day President Obama issued an executive order that bans the federal government’s roughly 3 million employees from text messaging while driving a government-issued vehicle or when driving a personal vehicle on official business.

“Recent deadly crashes involving drivers distracted by text messaging while behind the wheel highlight a growing danger on our roads,” Mr. Obama said. “Text messaging causes drivers to take their eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel, endangering both themselves and others.”

The president allowed for requests for exemptions, including the use of cellphones and similar devices by law-enforcement officials. He also said agreements with government contractors and sub-contractors should encourage them to adopt similar rules.

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