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.