Thursday, April 16, 2009

HoCo Bans Texting In HoCo Cars

The state legislature recently passed a law that will fine drivers up to $500 later this year if they are caught texting while driving. HoCo Exec Ulman is going to wait before imposing a similar ban on county employees. It'll be interesting to see how it works. In DC, it is against the law to talk on a cell phone without a hands-free kit, but you wouldn't know it by watching all the gabbers in police cars and other city vehicles.

From the HoCo Exec:

County Executive Ken Ulman today announced that he has issued Executive Order 2009-03, which prohibits all county employees from texting or e-mailing while operating a County vehicle. Ulman made the announcement this morning at a Maryland Highway Safety Foundation breakfast meeting held in Howard County.

“The research and statistics are there, distracted driving causes accidents,” said Ulman. “And since we have this knowledge and see it every day when we are on the road, government must do its part in making our roadways safer.”

Ulman’s Executive Order goes into effect immediately; a similar Maryland law, recently passed by the State legislature, goes into effect on October 1, 2009. This order bans the reading of text messages and e-mails, which is not covered in the new state law.

"We applaud Howard County Executive Ken Ulman for his vision and leadership in making highway safety a priority as demonstrated by this much needed Executive Order, which further expands the texting ban passed by the State legislature," said Reese Ruppersberger, Executive Director of the Maryland Highway Safety Foundation.

Here's is a copy of Executive Order 2009-03:

Executive Order: 2009 – 03

Dated: April 15, 2009

Subject: Prohibition Against Texting and

Using Email While Operating a County Vehicle

WHEREAS, text messaging, or texting, and emailing with cell phones and other electronic devices is a convenient and efficient method of electronic communication, but the act of texting or emailing while driving can divert attention from the focus required for safe driving; and

WHEREAS, according to an analysis by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, driving while texting appears to be a growing trend, with one study estimating that 20% of all drivers send or receive text messages; and

WHEREAS, the same analysis indicates that driver inattention is a factor in an estimated 80% of motor vehicle crashes and 65% of near crashes, with the result that driver distraction appears to be a factor in about 4.9 million accidents, causing 34,000 fatalities and 2.1 million injuries; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of County employees, county residents and motorists who use the streets and highways in the county to establish rules that enable County employees to operate County vehicles in the safest possible manner.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDERED by the County Executive of Howard County, Maryland that a County employee shall not use a hand-held electronic device to write, send or read text messages or email while operating a County vehicle.

AND BE IT FURTHER ORDERED that this prohibition does not apply to a County employee in a County vehicle that is parked outside the travel portion of a roadway, as that term is defined in the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Ken Ulman, as County Executive of Howard County, Maryland have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of Howard County to be affixed this 15th day of April, 2009.

Ken Ulman

County Executive

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