Having declared distracted driving an “epidemic” and “menace to society,” Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood moved to protect the American public with decisive leadership… by example. According to a DOT press release,
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.
Which is a bit like fighting an epidemic (to continue Secretary LaHood’s metaphor) by telling federal employees to take an aspirin. Unless LaHood decided that the problem wasn’t as big as was making it out to be…
“This order sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable. It shows that the federal government is leading by example. I fully expect that all 58,000 DOT employees and contractors will take this order seriously. Let’s show our friends and families that we can resist the temptation to answer the phone, send a message, or allow some other distraction to interfere with our driving”
That, or it proves that you made a hot fuss about something you couldn’t do a thing about. So the president gave you a pat on the head and told you to go find a new issue to play with. On the upside, the ability to imagine in-car distraction as an epidemic (as opposed to say, a fact of life) makes it so much easier to imagine the public looking to federal employees as role models.