Hey, you, with the government license plate and one eye on the road and one eye on your cellphone screen, it's time to hang up and drive -- by order of the president.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order aimed at the 3 million civilian employees of the federal government and its contractors stating that any employee driving a government vehicle or using a government cellphone should not text while driving.
The order blames texting while driving -- henceforth to be referred to as a DWIt, or driving-while-intexticated -- for everything from distracting drivers to causing deadly crashes.
Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned that he expected employees to "take this order seriously," adding, "let's show our friends and families that we can resist the temptation to answer the phone."
The executive order comes as LaHood wraps up a two-day Distracted Driving Summit, in which he called distracted drivers "a menace to society" and "an epidemic that seemed to be getting worse every year." He also announced new findings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that blamed distracted drivers for 6,000 fatalities and half a million injuries in 2008.
The executive order only applies to federal employees now, but drivers eyeing the guy who's DWIt in the lane next to them should take heart: Several states have already enacted bans on cellphone use while driving and, at the end of July, four Democratic senators, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), introduced legislation that would push the ban nationwide.