By on January 19, 2010

I'm sorry, what was that? Let me call you back...

What, you thought Ray LaHood’s war on distracted driving would be limited to a lot of hot air, a do-nothing summit and a ban on federal employees text messaging in federal vehicles? Yeah, so did we. Turns out that the position of Transportation Secretary leaves plenty of time for windmill tilting, as the WSJ reports LaHood is back on his old hobbyhorse. The SecTrans is pushing for the federal ban on texting while driving, and he’s back to the old double-nickel strategy: deny federal highway funding to states that refuse to pass local bans on texting while driving. Which is certainly better than some of the more Patriot Act-esque enforcement methods LaHood had been considering. Still, didn’t the mess that was the distracted driving summit convince LaHood that it’s impossible to legislate against stupidity, especially when there’s such a lucrative business in perpetuating said stupidity? Guess not.

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11 Comments on “Transportation Secretary LaHood Still Waging War On Distracted Driving...”


  • avatar
    dmrdano

    Doesn’t he have a job?  He has way to much time on his hands.

    Time to put LaHood in LaTrunk.

  • avatar

    Texting while driving should be illegal.  It’s stupid.

    John

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I agree that it’s stupid. Ditto for talking on the damn thing while driving, eating, putting on makeup, shaving, fumbling in your brief case for papers, handling CDs, etc. The problem is that making any or all of these illegal won’t stop them. Besides, they should already by covered by existing laws which the police don’t even try to enforce.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      One significant difference betwen phone use (voice or text) and all of the other possible distractions is that a time-stamped record of phone use exists, making prosecution much more effective when said phone use results in a mishap. Of course, it has to be a crime to make the prosecution effective, hence LaHood’s campaign. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the insurance companies get on-board by throwing clauses into policies limiting their liability if the driver was engaging in illegal acts when an accident occurs.

      Govt paranoia aside, cell phone use, and especially texting, while driving is just asking for trouble. I may answer my phone while driving but I immediately look for a place to pull over if I’m going to talk at all.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Texting while driving should be illegal.
       
      Texting while driving pretty much was illegal (“driving while distracted” was the charge) before we started all this.  What these efforts amount to is  public relations campaign and a change in fines to make people aware of it.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    Just because something is stupid and should never be done doesn’t mean there needs to be another law on the books.
     
    There are already plenty of laws that could be used to prosecute texting while driving, on top of the natural law that people who do it get in accidents.  There’s absolutely no reason to make another unenforceable law on the books.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    OK.
    Texting while driving is stupid.
    So is eating, putting on makeup, programming your satellite radio  or ANYTHING that effects your limited driving skills.
    So now what?
    Outlaw all of these?
    Why can’t we just accept the fact that humans driving in automobiles are dangerous? I mean come on! We are just a blink from being monkeys! 
    Why can’t we accept the fact that many things we do for enjoyment or life very likely will shorten the longevity of our lives?

    Soon it will be red light cameras catching us driving without our hands at 10 and 2…or whatever it was they taught us in drivers ed

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      The problem arises when it shortens somebody else’s life.

      p.s. It’s no onger 10 and 2 due to the potential injury associated with air bag deployment in the event of a crash.  They now recommende 4 and 8 – at least that’s what a CHP officer who gave our driver safety training recommended.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    There are already plenty of laws that could be used to prosecute texting while driving, on top of the natural law that people who do it get in accidents.  There’s absolutely no reason to make another unenforceable law on the books.

    While agree with your conclusion, I take issue with your assertion that natural law takes care of the problem.

    Last week, an accident occurred (thankfully nobody was killed) when a person who admitted to police that he had been talking on his blutooth “just didn’t see the car stoipped in front of him”, and rearended it at 35 mph.  I believe it was two years ago now, that a lady rearended a car at the end of a long line of cars waiting at a road construction site.  She was texting while doing 55+ mph on the highway.  She never even noticed the traffic and failed to break at any time.  The driver at the end of the line of cars was dead at the scene.  Three others in the car that she was pushed into were injured and taken to the hospital as was the distracted driver.  Her sentence?  The judge “threw the book at her” and gave her the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter, 3 years.  Hardly a sentence comensurate with the crime.  Good thing for her she wasn’t found standing on a corner with a crack pipe (drug paraphenalia) in her purse.  then she would have been looking at real time.  I don’t advocate the use of mind altering drugs, but as long as they aren’t driving down the road, the damage to innocent bystanders is much less.

    The solution isn’t outlawing texting while driving.  While that would seem to result in even less attention to driving than talking on a cell phone, hands-free or otherwise, there is still an unacceptable level of distraction when using a cell phone or any number of other activities that people seem to find necessary while driving.  My solution is just treat people who recklessly operate a vehicle the same as a person who recklessly uses a gun.  I don’t care if you were drunk or didn’t mean to hit that car and kill the mother and two children inside of it, you should be prosecuted for 2nd degree murder and pay the comensurate penalty.  As far as I’m concerned unless the steering goes out on your car or a bird flies into your windshield or some other event that a normally prudent person could not anticipate occurs, it was no accident when you rammed into that minivan at 50 mph.  Treating homicide by vehicle (or assault for that matter if the victim is only injured) the same as we treat other forms of homicide would certainly simplify things for cops and should decrease all forms of “distracted” driving from texting while driving to DUI.  I know my attention while driving would increase.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    It’s already illegal to “drive while distracted” in California.  It doesn’t mention texting specifically, but I don’t think it has to.  Just tell cops to remember that speeding isn’t the only law on the books.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Considering that driving while distracted probably kills more people and costs more money than terrorism, it’s probably worth investing in a “War on Distracted Driving”
     
    It’s also means that “The War on Terror” and “The War on Drugs” should be deprioritized and shoved somewhere well behind real threats like “The War on Slipping In the Shower” and “The War on Not Wearing Bike Helmets”, while real killers like “The War on High Fructose Corn Syrup” should be given a the lion’s share of funding and attention.


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