Transportation Secretary is out of control

You may have seen a truck commercial with Georgia head football coach Mark Richt, in which his cell phone is synched with a system in the truck; allowing the drivers to have a conversation or hear text messages, without holding a phone or looking down at the screen. This illustrates emerging technology automakers are using to attract new vehicle customers by making them more user-friendly. 

But, not if the nation’s Nanny-in-Chief, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, has his way. 

Recent reports from the nation’s Capital indicate LaHood’s department is exploring new technology that actually would disable cell phones in moving vehicles, and make new products promoted by automakers, such as that illustrated above, pointless.  In an interview recently on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, for example, LaHood told the show’s hosts, “the technology is there and I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones. We need to do a lot more if we’re going to save lives.” 

Transportation Department spokespersons later would claim their boss’s remarks should not be interpreted as a move to mandate that this disabling technology be installed in vehicles.  They stressed the department is interested only in raising the public’s awareness of the dangers of using cell phones and other hand-held electronic devices while driving.  Don’t you believe it.  

Ever since assuming his Transportation post early in 2009, LaHood has been hell-bent to use the power of that position as a launching pad from which to target cell phone use in vehicles.  And he is serious about it; efforts by his subordinates to downplay his words to the contrary notwithstanding.  

Facts and the Constitution pose no speed bumps for this effort to restrict the liberty of those who drive America’s roads in privately-owned vehicles. 

A study published earlier this year by the Highway Loss Data Institute, for example, shows that cell phone bans in three states did not lead to fewer car accidents.  Of course, like many bureaucrats drunk with power, LaHood believes government should use whatever power it can get away with to “fix” perceived problems, regardless of whether the defined “ills” are properly a job for government to remedy in the first place.  

In this instance, the federal government’s efforts will not only impermissibly limit personal choice and freedom, but would also stifle important emerging communications technology.  Such concerns matter little, however, to federal leaders like LaHood, who view their mission in government as using the power of their positions to re-structure society in the image of their own personal universe, whatever the cost.

69 comments Add your comment

Joel Edge

December 15th, 2010
7:17 am

And this is not aimed at you Mr. Barr. Just to make that clear.
“raising the public’s awareness”
That phrase is rapidly starting to chap my….well, you know. It’s seems to be used in conjunction with every fund raiser and government declaration. Everything from nutrition to anti-smoking to global warming. Just a note: I think that the American public is aware of many things. We are now becoming more and more aware. Nothing against “awareness”, it’s just becoming a condescending term. Might I suggest a word change.
“You would think like us, if you weren’t ignorant.”

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margo

December 15th, 2010
7:33 am

the wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round…

Quentin

December 15th, 2010
7:47 am

We let the nanny state get their foot in the door when they banned drinking and driving. My personal choice and freedom to have a bottle of bourbon in the cupholder has long been impermissibly limited. Now they want to take our cell phones too? Only from my cold, dead fingers, Bob!

T-Town

December 15th, 2010
8:14 am

Once this technology is in full swing, LaHood can work on the tech to eliminate eating while driving, putting on makeup while driving, shaving while driving, reading while driving, correcting the kids in the back seat while driving, and turning to talk to the passengers while driving. Public awareness, ain’t it wonderful?

JimW

December 15th, 2010
8:15 am

Quentin – Drinking and driving don’t mix; it’s nearly impossible to make a decent gin and tonic at 70 MPH :-)

This nanny-state regulation is definitely going too far. What’s next? Disabling On-Star? Drivers who are distracted for any reason cause more accidents than non-distracted drivers. Does this mean that he will ban young children from riding in the car, eliminate the car sound system and disable the ignition if the driver has coffee or fast food with him or her?

Secretary LaHood needs to get a life and leave the rest of us alone. He’d be better off fixing highway bridges and interchanges in need of repair and potholes (personally).

Willis

December 15th, 2010
8:30 am

All I want to do is to be able to go buy a bottle of bourbon on Sunday to mix with my Coke, but Nanny State Georgia won’t allow that. The Church Nannies have that idea all locked down.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

December 15th, 2010
8:31 am

Are they going to disable the cell phones, computers and two-way radios in police cars as well?

Duh

December 15th, 2010
8:32 am

Maybe it will work like my truck’s built-in GPS… only when stopped. Then we can dodge all those freeway talkers as they try to move on and off the highway from the emergency lane to make calls.
The people I currently see getting back on the highway from the emergency lane usually think 25mph is the appropriate speed to merge back into 70mph traffic.

The AJC Stinks

December 15th, 2010
8:34 am

LaHood (in Spanish is that el hoodlum?) is too stupid to know that it against Federal law to block cell phone transmissions. Once again, a Federal Pecker Head is exceeding its authority! Time to put a leash on el hoodlum.

Mark

December 15th, 2010
8:37 am

Enter your comments here

carlosgvv

December 15th, 2010
8:41 am

The “liberty of those who drive America’s roads in privately-owned vehicles” stops when they directly threaten my life or the lives of others. Studies have shown that even hands-free cell phone use is dangerous. Unless you have irrefutable evidence to the contrary, I would not be calling Ray LaHood someone who wants to re-structure society in his own image.

Road Scholar

December 15th, 2010
8:43 am

So Bob, is there a way to reduce vehicle crashes and deaths when operating your vehicle? Any attempt to double/triple the penalty for violating drivers, those who drive a weapon and do not pay attention to what they are doing when talking on a cell phone and who don’t care about other people/drivers/passengers? While their world revolves around themselves, how can we make people more responsible? And if you challenge the issue of driver responsibility, just read the blogs from conservative bloggers concerning alledged welfare recipients, and the backlash against the tax payer supporting them because of their irresponsiblity.

J. Kase

December 15th, 2010
8:50 am

Studies have proven that drivers who fell asleep at the wheel caused more accidents those using cell phones. So, lets outlaw sleeping while driving.

John K

December 15th, 2010
8:54 am

I understand your frustration Bob, that’s probably how you arranged to pay for your ex-wife’s abortion.

BW

December 15th, 2010
9:06 am

People can hardly drive and now they’re trying to text too? Libertarianism only goes so far when we all have to share the same thing i.e. the highways. I’m all for making it safer to conduct business with cell phones while driving. I agree that the government should allow private industry to develop the solution for the marketplace but not that a change isn’t needed.

Ron B.

December 15th, 2010
9:08 am

Once again, members of this administration talk about trying to fix the economy and make jobs, but do what they can in the opposite. This technology would create new jobs, help move the economy forward, and give people a sense of well being. But the people in in charge are doing their best to make sure that you and I are dependent on the gov’t for our lives…Their new motto “Vote for me, and I will babysit you from cradle to grave, and beyond”

An American Patriot

December 15th, 2010
9:12 am

Folks, this is just another example of our glorious government trying to make the American People more dependent on them. They are still working on Gun Control and once they get that and Cell Phone usage banned from cars, they’ve got us in a vise. We will not be able to communicate or protect ourselves……this is just where they want us…..helpless and dependent. Cell Phone usage while driving should be banned, but where does that leave a passenger (who could be a child reporting a dangerous situation?) Thank you Bob Barr, A Great American, for keeping us informed on these important issues :)

Bob

December 15th, 2010
9:12 am

I am 103 years old and could care less about speaking on the phone when I drive. Besides, I have a dog and cat that fight about which one gets to ride in my lap while I am driving, it’s hard to concentrate on my pets and talk on the phone anyway.

zakress

December 15th, 2010
9:38 am

So what would happen if I was a passenger in said motor vehicle -using gov’t approved HOV lanes- would my mobile phone be disabled, too? Way to think this through Big Brother…

DebbieDoRight

December 15th, 2010
9:38 am

Folks, this is just another example of our glorious government republican party trying to make the American People more dependent on them stupid by making up things to be concerned about. They are still working on Gun Control flushing the government and the constitution down the toilet and once they get that and Cell Phone usage banned from cars, they’ve got us in a vise. We will not be able to communicate or protect ourselves……this is just where they want us…..helpless and dependent. Cell Phone usage while driving should be banned, but where does that leave a passenger (who could be a child reporting a dangerous situation?) which has nothing to do with the subject because a PASSENGER wouldn’t be driving. Thank you Bob Barr, A Great American narcissistic idiot, for keeping us informed revved up on these important issues over nothing. Thanks again!! :roll:

Call it like it is

December 15th, 2010
9:39 am

Hate to break it to you Bob, but your study is beyond silly. Cell Phone use by far has increased accidents. And yes I am an auto damage adjuster for a major insurance carrier, and I can tell you that I look at around 10 to 15 cars a week that the accidents are from the driver being on the cell phone. Do I want the gov telling what to do in my car, no but I can tell you 3/4 of Atlanta drivers can’t drive anyway, then give them a cell phone…….Yeah its a problem. But its not the only one…DVD screens on the dash and on the visors, GPS units, Backup cameras, hud displays, cd changers. Way too much junk in cars these days. People just get in your car, turn the radio to your favorite station and just drive!

Homer Seawright

December 15th, 2010
9:41 am

What a screwball. Course, afterall- Lahood means The Hood in spanish.

Ted Striker

December 15th, 2010
9:51 am

I would bet money that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood uses his cell phone while driving.

Mike

December 15th, 2010
9:52 am

Just more of the Democratic regime trying to mess in our lives. Help save America, vote conservative every chance you get.

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zeke

December 15th, 2010
10:00 am

Like all left wing socialists, democrats, LaHood is an idiot!

d

December 15th, 2010
10:08 am

“Of all the Tyrannies, a Tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims maybe the most oppressive, those that torment us for our own good will torment without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”. C.S. Lewis

myother

December 15th, 2010
10:12 am

It is dangerous to use a electronic device and drive at the same time. I’m for this.

jm

December 15th, 2010
10:17 am

Barr – you’re as out of touch as always. There is no “right” to talk on a cell phone while operating a 2 ton vehicle. There’s no “right” to drive uninsured.

Driving while on a cell phone is 3 times worse than driving drunk. If you want to make driving drunk, high, and on a cell phone legal, go ahead. But I don’t think you or most people think that’s a good idea….

jm

December 15th, 2010
10:18 am

Barr – you’ve been hanging out with the little green men again, haven’t you? Were they not very nice to you?

jm

December 15th, 2010
10:20 am

Barr, when are you going to come out for the legalization of cocaine and crack? I’m waiting….

Eric

December 15th, 2010
10:27 am

Notwithstanding the constitutional issues mentioned, we really don’t need all this “new” and unnecessary technology in the first place. I prefer my land line and slower pace of life anyday!

Swede Atlanta

December 15th, 2010
10:50 am

While there will always be other distractions in a moving vehicle from a blaring radio, an argument with a passenger, children or animals leaping around, etc. the use of a cell phone is one distraction that we have the technology to control.

Atlanta drivers are the worst I have seen and I have driven and lived in other metropolitan areas and small towns. They try to eat, read, text, talk, put on their makeup or shave, drink coffee and have intimate relations all while driving their vehicle @ 25 miles over the posted speed limit.

No one needs to be talking on a cell phone while the vehicle is moving. The driver should be paying attention to driving. To claim this is taking away some kind of right is absurd. If this is a right then it is a right to be careless, selfless and self-absorbed. When you are driving a multi-ton vehicle down the road you have no such right.

Pats and Taps

December 15th, 2010
10:51 am

Bob Barr is obscenely incorrect about this issue. Texting while driving is fatal. The only appropriate cyber-messaging in cars is when they are parked, and the driver then gets in the back seat to sext his girlfriend or cyber-lover. Even THAT is dangerous. How so? I’ll tell you how so, sir: I was sexting from the back seat of my Uplander last week when a cop appeared and started giving me a ticket for texting while driving. “But officer”, I objected, I’m sexting from the back seat of a parked car.” The cop kept writing a ticket and then I realized that one of my blow up dolls had floated into the driver’s seat and was texting! (the silly vixen). “Look, officer, I can’t keep track of all of them, It’s not fair. Can’t you give me a break?” The cop tore the ticket from his pad and handed it over to me and told me that I was a texting, sexting violation of the traffic laws, cyber-ettiquette, and common decency, and that his only regret was that he could only write one ticket.

I hated that weekend.

Jefferson

December 15th, 2010
11:02 am

Ban driving is the only way to be totally safe, its like terror (tactic) you can live in fear or live.

dylandawg

December 15th, 2010
11:39 am

Folks should be allowed to use cell phones in cars. A few deaths here and there is not as important as catching up with your friends or making sure you have the right grocery list.

Road Scholar

December 15th, 2010
12:10 pm

Ted S: He probably does, esp since he has a driver!

P.S. We don’tneed no stinking protection! I really enjoy salmonella, metal flakes and lead in my foodstuffs! Toyotas? Who needs brakes? People are now responsible according to Bob…Oh, the manufacturers will all protect us in the name of profits!

Really

December 15th, 2010
12:12 pm

DebbieDoRight,
I like your crossing out and substitute of words, but you miss the point, it is Obozo administration that is pushing this ignorant policy. I wonder who they will exempt from this?

StJ

December 15th, 2010
12:26 pm

The rest of the federal gov’t is out of control, too.

JDW

December 15th, 2010
12:26 pm

Well Bob, I see your point. That whole infringement on personal liberty argument. Shame you didn’t see having a bit of sex in the office as a personal liberty not to be trampled on by those in government. Would of saved us a whole lot of wasted time, effort and money.

So we can count on your support for the repeal of drinking and driving laws….personal liberty and all.

A. J. C . Smith

December 15th, 2010
1:06 pm

Maybe it is asking to much to dream that the federal government would stay the he** out of my affairs.

lmno

December 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

Way to blow this out of proportion Bob. The government is “looking into” a lot of things. This doesn’t mean that all or any of them will come to fruition.

If it turns out that the technology is truly there, then it will only be implemented if the company who makes the technology pays a congressperson to introduce legislation, and tell the people its about safety. Since the people don’t know for which party the congressperson plays, the people can’t rightly decide whether they are for it or not. Afterall, government is a game and people support the home team. And assuming that the company making the technology can convince ($) a congressperson to introduce that legislation, it would be wrapped in a much bigger bill (probably an appropriations bill) which would be debated on other issues. AND before the legislation is passed, special interest groups reprensenting cell phone makers would lobby (read: PAY) lawmakers on the other team to oppose the bill which they would say was about preserving liberty.

So, before you get your panties in a bunch about this, remember that either way, your pretty well screwed.

Swede Atlanta

December 15th, 2010
2:00 pm

A.J.C. Smith

That would be fine if these were “your affairs”. When you are driving a multi-ton weapon down the road, laws regarding safety of the vehicle and conditions on who and how a vehicle is driven are not “your affairs”. They are as much about the safety of others on the road as your own.

If it was just about you killing yourself while talking, shaving, texting, sexting, whatever I would have no objection. But it isn’t. It is about protecting others from your selfless ways.

Swede Atlanta

December 15th, 2010
2:14 pm

Correction…your “selfish” ways……

Patriot

December 15th, 2010
2:15 pm

Once again I will remind folks that the French in the early 1800’s had a wonderful way of addressing such issues as did the folks who sold tar and feathers in this country. Just saying.

Tracy

December 15th, 2010
2:35 pm

Even if they pass this one day, there will still be no law to prevent people from eating and putting on make-up while driving.

I saw a woman a few months back who was actually putting on eyeliner while driving. Not at a stop light, while driving. Both eyes in the mirror, all over the lanes.

Swede Atlanta

December 15th, 2010
2:45 pm

Tracy

You are correct. People will continue to do stupid things that get themselves and others hurt or killed. But we can address at least the issue of the phone conversation or texting/sexting activities that distracts.

Ezra

December 15th, 2010
2:54 pm

I would get a mechanic to disable it. Problem solved for me.

Ezra

December 15th, 2010
2:56 pm

Let’s sue the cell phone companies! They made the device that is killing people.