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

Mr. Holmes

December 15th, 2010
3:18 pm

This is not the best issue to use as an illustration of the growth of the Nanny State, as many posters have pointed out. We (quite rightfully) place all kinds of restrictions on motor vehicle operation out of concern for public safety. Does the Constitution guarantee my right to steer with my nipples? To drive while funneling beers? To putter down 85 in reverse while three topless cheerleaders hang out my windows? I think not.

Indeed, that mean ole government even forces me to … gasp! … ***purchase insurance*** before I’m legally allowed on public roads. There’s probably some totalitarian motive buried in there somewhere, but then again maybe it’s just so I can’t four-wheel my ‘87 Escort Diesel into someone’s living room and walk away scot-free like Mayhem in the AllState commercials.

Anyway. I agree with Bob that I’d want to see real (and highly compelling) evidence of fatality reduction through something like this, since it would also mean even passengers can’t operate their phones. But this is not a case of an oppressive government meddling with our private lives. Cars are 3,000-pound weapons. Government’s role is regulate and ensure their safe use.

The AJC Stinks

December 15th, 2010
3:18 pm

According to a recent study, 17% of hot women drivers are using a vibrator while driving. I suppose ya want to ban that too?

The AJC Stinks

December 15th, 2010
3:20 pm

Let us ring washington with 10,000 guillotines.

[...] Transportation Secretary is out of control | The Barr Code. This entry was posted in Opinion, Politics and tagged America, cell phones, cellular [...]

killerj

December 15th, 2010
3:31 pm

Have you ever wondered why they want you to go digital? anyone in the military knows this answer, like cattle my friends,like cattle.

bob

December 15th, 2010
4:19 pm

These studies that “show” hands free phone devices are dangerous are from the same source that wants to ban them, the DOT.

You and I know some drivers that should never talk hands-free on a cell phone while driving. I bet those are the same people you wished that they never got a driver’s license as well since they are a menace on the road no matter what.

I think if LaHood was really about safety he would consider working with the states for more rigorous standards to get and retain a driver’s license and for better driver’s education instead of trying to ban everything.

Patriot

December 15th, 2010
4:29 pm

If the roads were privately owned and operated and insurance companies issued licenses and set standards (and we actually had a truly free and competitive market) we would see the marketplace address issues such as these through cost/value/price systems rather than corrupt political systems as today. Government is a failure. They are the wrong folks to have anything to say about safety and security when their very presence in our lives ensures that we will be neither safe nor secure.

janet

December 15th, 2010
4:29 pm

Must be a slow news day for you Mr. Barr but you needed to earn a few extra bucks to help pay for those Christmas gifts you might buy.

An American Patriot

December 15th, 2010
4:51 pm

DebbieDoRight

December 15th, 2010
9:38 am

Dallas too? :)

Pablo

December 15th, 2010
5:27 pm

They have to come up with such obtuse regulations to give the electorate the perception that they are doing something worth the stupid amounts of money they are paid…

Praveen

December 15th, 2010
5:43 pm

If Obama was going to hire a repulbican, couldnt he have found someone better than Ray LaHood to be Transportation Secretary? THis guy is a joke. He wanted to put meters on cars to track trheir mileage so he could tax them based on miles driven. I would rather see a slightly extra tax on gas than another tax category which would require more government overhead.

Now he wants to interfere with Cell phones in cars? First of all, even if you use his logic, how is that fair for the passenger? Speed and cell phones dont kill. It’s the people using them improperly that kill. You speed and swerve lanes recklessly or tailgate someone, or speed around a sharp curve, you deserve to get ticketed. Same with someone unable to even turn their car properly while driving with a cellphone in one hand.

DavidEm

December 16th, 2010
5:56 am

“…using the power of their positions to re-structure society in the image of their own universe, whatever the cost.”

REALLY? The TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY “drunk with power” for trying to get these idiots to stop talking on their cells while driving?

Can anyone say “drama queen”?

[...] Ex-Congressman Bob Barr Calls LaHood “Nanny in Chief” for Blocking Cell Phones (AJC) [...]

Omri

December 16th, 2010
9:32 am

Bar, you’re talking nonsense. A nanny is someone who tries to protect you from yourself. Lahood is not doing that. He is trying to protect OTHERS from YOUR distracted driving. That’s not being a nanny. That’s plain old due diligence, and no different from cracking down on drunk driving.

Pats and Taps

December 16th, 2010
11:00 am

There is no hands free device for me. I’m Italian! I talk with my hands! I’ve havent touched the steering wheel in two years. I use my knees while I express myself on my hands free bluetooth wireless data streaming phone thingie.

lmno

December 16th, 2010
1:34 pm

Perhaps we should just do a better job at making fun of people with those douche bag blue tooth things and fewer people would use them.

Also, people with their phone clipped to their belt like its the bat belt. “Where’s your grappling hook guy?”

Have a question

December 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

I wonder how many people should not have a driver’s license for well known medical reasons that have one? The medical problems can cause a person to temporarily lose control of a car, endangering others on the road. I would think this is more of a problem than cell phones.
I am medically disqualified from driving a vehicle and do not have a driver’s license.

Mr.P

December 17th, 2010
11:51 pm

Ray Lahood belongs in Communist China,not the USA.He’d fit right in with those evil S.O.B.’s.Lets start abolishing some of these worthless departments and the weasles who run them.A control freak like Lahood has no business telling USA citizens what they can and cannot do in their vehicles.Its a State issue if anything.Not the Federal Commies in that craphole called Washington,DC.

William

December 22nd, 2010
7:49 am

As one who was almost hit on my motorcycle by a cell phone user, the disabling while moving concept is great. Secretary LaHood is a hero for pushing this limitation. So buzz off Barr and find something more appropriate to complain about.