America’s Nanny-in-Chief is at it again. Ray LaHood, a former Republican Congressman and now Transportation Secretary in the Obama Administration, is considering a ban on any use of a cell phone while driving.
“I don’t want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they’re driving,” LaHood explained in an interview last week with Bloomberg. This and other public statements by LaHood make clear it is his personal view that people should not talk on the phone at all while driving, that is the basis for his anti-cell phone zealotry. The draconian ban LaHood is contemplating would extend even to hands-free sets and new technologies being developed by struggling American automakers to attract new buyers.
LaHood’s crusades against what he perceives as social ills includes bans on texting while driving and mandating seats belts on schools buses. But this latest trial balloon of his, which comes at the same time President Barack Obama is traveling the country promoting a $50 billion infrastructure initiative that includes ambitious plans for high speed rail, is beyond the pale and is the latest of his attempts to “coerce people out of their cars.”
As counterintuitive as it may sound, a study published earlier this year by the Highway Loss Data Institute shows that cell phone bans in three states and the District of Columbia did not lead to less accidents. The laws did, however, increase use of hands-free devices.
Even with a lack of consensus, however, LaHood still has powers at his disposal with which to coerce states into accepting this latest draconian policy of his; such as withholding federal highway funds, much like the federal government did to force states to comply with the nationally-mandated drinking age in the 80’s.
While it is being disguised as a feel good crusade to make us safer, this is the latest example of intrusion by the federal government into an issue that should solely be left to states to decide.