[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                    November 27, 2009  

Texting prohibited while
driving at Fort McCoy

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — Texting took a back seat to safety as an executive order prohibits text messaging while driving on military installations or driving anywhere in government vehicles.

Executive Order 13513, signed by President Obama, specifically bans federal employees from texting while driving government-owned, leased or rented vehicles. It prohibits texting while driving privately-owned vehicles (POVs) on official government business. The policy also extends to federal contractors.

“Despite the shocking accident reports and warnings, people still text while driving,” said Mario Owens, safety officer for the Army’s Installation Management Command.

Sgt. Domenic Modica, Fort McCoy Traffic Sergeant for the Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) Police, said the DES
Police are enforcing the executive order just as they enforce the federal regulations that ban or restrict the use of cell phones on federal installations. Drivers cannot use cell phones while vehicles are in motion unless they have hands-free operation.

Police can ticket drivers under Army Regulation 190-5 for inattentive driving if the use of these devices interferes with their driving, Modica said.

Jane Schmidt, Fort McCoy installation transportation officer, said personnel driving government or leased General Services Administration vehicles on or off post are prohibited from engaging in texting while the vehicle is moving.

They are subject to federal law when driving on installations. If they are arrested or involved in a traffic offense off post and texting/use of cell phones while driving in a government vehicle or on government business, they are subject to federal sanctions.

“The best thing to do if you need to use a cell phone or engage in text messaging is to pull to the side of a road and stop the car or park in a parking lot to make a call or send a text message,” Modica said.

Army Regulation 190-5 also bans the use of other electronic devices, such as headphones or earphones, CD players, global positioning equipment, etc., by drivers when the vehicles are moving, Modica said.

By way of the ban, the federal government hopes to set an example for state and local governments, private employers, and individual drivers, and to mitigate the rates of unnecessary and sometimes deadly accidents caused by being distracted by electronic devices while driving, Owens said.

Before reaching for hand-held devices to engage in an other-than-traditional-text-messaging session, officials said it’s important to know that the executive order very broadly defines texting as “reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic devices,” to include, “e-mailing, instant messaging, obtaining navigational information, or engaging in any other form of electronic data retrieval of electronic data communication.”

For more information about traffic regulations in the Fort McCoy community, call Modica at 608-388-2044. For more information about texting in and the use of government or federal vehicles, call Schmidt at 608-388-6549.


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