By on January 29, 2013

In what Reuters calls “the latest exit from President Barack Obama’s cabinet,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that he would not be staying on for the second term.

In a good-bye letter to DOT employees, he  made only a passing three word reference the “Distracted Driving Initiative”, which was bunched in with many other achievements, from High-Speed Rail all the way  to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. La Hood, like many others, took credit for helping to “jumpstart the economy and put our fellow Americans back to work with $48 billion in transportation funding from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009,” and for pouring badly needed $2.7 billion into 130 transportation projects across the Nation.  A $50 billion program probably would have made more sense.

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62 Comments on “Tweet All About It: Ray “Distracted Driving” LaHood Steps Down...”


  • avatar
    cwallace

    There’s plenty of ink on how every secretary who can still move under their own power is leaving the administration– but I’ve not seen much as to why they are all bailing. What’s going on here?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      It’s typical, regardless of the politics. Most want to cash in on their experience by going to the private sector.

      • 0 avatar
        LuciferV8

        @gslippy:
        Absolutely. This especially applies to the revolving door at the Pentagon.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        “Experience” might be an euphemism for connections. Leaving when you have 3 or 4 years left of connections to the top makes you more valuable in the private sector. The boys in pentagon – mentioned above – is probably wanted for their membership in the old boys club when it’s time for procurement.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      It’s actually pretty typical that cabinet Secs step down after a US Pres is re-elected. The job is gruelling and a single misstep in the political minefield can leave one permanently disabled (see: Ray Donovan).

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      It’s a thankless stressful job that doesn’t pay nearly enough, so hell yeah people step down to “spend more time with their family” and get a cushy high-paying job in the private sector.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Next candidate: Lindsay Lohan.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    They’re leaving because cabinet secretaries burn out after 4 years. Very demanding jobs paying a pittance of what these people will make in the private sector.

    I’m betting LaHood goes to work as a lobbyist for Toyota!

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Good riddance, the guy is a clown.

    He was on a war path against texting and driving, he wants black boxes in vehicles, backup cameras which are pointless, etc.

    Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out clown.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Are you in favor of letting people text while driving? As for black boxes in cars- you should know that it already exists if you have been paying attention to Toyota’s ‘brake malfunction’ investigation. The DOT’s standardization proposal seemed very reasonable, and also protects the privacy of that data.

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        Yes I am. I text and drive all the time (with manual no less). I’m still alive.

        People are going to do it regardless of some shortsighted law, the only problem is that they do it as to not get caught, and thus, make it unsafe.

        And NOTHING this government does is reasonable. It’s nothing more than yet another power grab.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I text and drive all the time (with manual no less).”

        This isn’t a shock. Your comments on this website consistently make it clear that you’re not exactly a poster child for intelligence.

      • 0 avatar
        dodobreeder

        People text and drive, or are on the phone and drive, or eat and drive, or drink and drive, all the time, everywhere. And nowhere is this more evident than in Southern California on any Interstate, Freeway, Highway, and secondary roads.

        It’s no different than, say, I-95. I’ve seen people on I-95 do exactly all of the above while driving at breakneck speeds to and from work.

        The problem is not the texting or talking or eating or drinking while driving. The problem is that someone who causes an accident is not penalized or punished enough for causing and accident while distracted, so there is nothing to deter them from doing it because there is no penalty for causing injury, death and mayhem.

      • 0 avatar

        What I find astonishing is that someone at TTAC would buy into LaHood’s “safety” lies and propaganda, when his every move was specifically designed to drive up costs of cars and driving and thus suppress cars. Safety might be incidentially improved by an insignificant amount, but that’s not the point. The point is that we’re supposed to love cars here — not helping lahoods to destroy them.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @86SN2001: “Yes I am. I text and drive all the time (with manual no less). I’m still alive.”

        Speaking as a numerate reader of this comment, my first thought is that your comment smacks of the “raise your hand if you’re not here” problem. We have statistics about this which contradict your anecdote.

        The other problem is that, while texting makes you a more dangerous driver (and its painfully obvious who the cellphone, texting, and drunk drivers are if you pay attention in traffic), it’s statistics. It doesn’t write your life story, it just shows how the dice are loaded. Do you feel lucky? Do you?

        Lastly, you prepared to bet others safety on how lucky you feel? That’s the real problem with all of this. If the only person who you put in danger were yourself, this would be an issue like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. But, it’s not. Even the most ardent Libertarians understand that your freedom can’t possibly extend any farther than the nose of the next free person, but we drive cheek-to-jowl at 80mph. The margin for error here is right at the edge of human abilities. Those same abilities that degrade when you split your attention.

        I do appreciate that people who consider themselves to be experienced drivers would find lectures on basic safety and reciprocity to be a little condescending, especially if you happen to object to the guys’s politics. But my wife is a scientific researcher whose research covers visual perception and attention, and the data backs up his argument. She’s seen the same effects in her experiments. LaHood is right about this one, and comments like yours demonstrate why someone in his position would feel morally compelled to make the argument.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      Please never drive near me.

    • 0 avatar
      thesparrow

      86SN2001: “I text and drive all the time (with manual no less). I’m still alive.”

      You are a selfish idiot. Just because you do something dangerous and stupid and you haven’t killed yourself yet doesn’t make it right. Sooner or later Karma is gonna find you, and frankly I think the world would be a better place without people like you in it. I just don’t want to see you take my friends, family or other innocent people out with you.

      Jerks like YOU are the reason there are so many rules and regulations in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      “The guy is a clown”……???…..all I can say 86SN is, “you are an ass-clown”.

      When you are T-Boned by a cellphoning/texting driver of a 13ton truck who blew a red light at 55MPH on a highway like I was……..I hope you are are lucky as I was to survive. I am all for very strict laws and fines for cellphoning while driving. IMHO it is more dangerous and far more prevelent than DUI.

      • 0 avatar

        Laws against cellphones are laughable for anyone who’s ever flown an airplane in a controlled airspace. Taking a call, haha. One button! Dialing? You should see how pilots tune radios. It’s all in the discipline, not laws. Besides, nobody observes idiotic laws like that anyway. They only exist for arbitrary, capricious enforcement, and the benefit of ambulance-chasing lawers.

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        You couldn’t be more wrong 56.

        It’s clear that a lot of people don’t have the brain power to do two things at once. Many of the replies to my comment prove that (Pch101, 56BelAire) but what people don’t realize is the EXACT same kind of knee-jerk, over the top rhetoric was said when AM radios made their ways into cars, and we seem to get along with those pretty well…even FM frequencies and changing CDs.

        Saying texting and driving is dangerous is like saying speed kills. Richard Hammond has proven that speed, infact, does not kill, and I have proven that texting and driving is safe.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Pete zaitcav:

        I’m a private pilot as well.

        The thinking in the science community disagrees with your assumptions a bit, and also with the assumptions of the politicians.

        The real data shows that holding the phone and using an earpiece are roughly equivalent in terms of risk. Also, the same folks find that having a conversation with someone inside the car either doesn’t affect the driver’s performance, or makes the driver a tiny bit safer.

        So, what gives?

        A lot of science-folk from relevant disciplines (such as attention and visual perception under the psychology umbrella) think that the issue is that having a conversation with someone who isn’t part of the vehicular situation splits your attention. This would explain the data about more crashes for texting/talking drivers AND the lack of improvement from using an earpiece.

        So, by this line of thinking, talking to an air traffic controller wouldn’t create a distracted driver problem.

        Also, speaking as a pilot, the PTS standards require far less precision than driving 6′ from someone on the highway. Seriously, the +-100ft for the PTS doesn’t even keep you on the right side of the interstate. There’s just less stuff to hit up in the sky, and the people who made the sectional and controllers in a Class C can see most of it! Flying a Mooney M20C at 200mph is fun, but until you’re flying in formation a few feet off the wing of another aircraft, its nowhere near as demanding (in terms of reflexes) as driving at 80mph. Flying the Mooney takes more education, though, and you have to remember to put the wheels down.

        Lastly, the scientific thinking on stuff like this is a moving target. That makes sense for science, but it doesn’t always translate well to the political or public zeitgeist very well. Scientists are trying to bridge the gap, but most of ‘em got in to the business by being fascinated with their discipline rather then entheusiastic about public relations and the political needs of policymakers……

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        86sn, again, you are totally wrong and cavalier about it. Changing a radio station, inserting a CD or a cassette, or eating a frickin’ double cheeseburger are not as dangerous…..Period. I have done all of the the above a multitude of times during my 5 decades of driving. They don’t require brainpower, they are rote physical actions you can do while keeping focused on the road. Texting/cellphoning are not, they require you focus your brain, your thought process on the stupid smartphone and the conversation you are having, taking the focus away from the road.

        I never make or take calls on my cell phone while driving. If something is so important that I need to make a call while driving, I pull off the road.

        Why in the hell do I see so many cars weaving out of their lanes on a daily basis? It’s the damn phone. Whenever I pass these weaving soccer moms with a car full of kids, I slow down, give them a stare and all I get back is a stupid blank look or an “I’m sorry look”…..they’ll really be sorry the day the go off the road and kill a few of their kids or somebody else.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Texting and driving is a bad idea, though I’m not sure if there is a need for a law specifically banning it. If your other activities while driving, whether it be texting, talking on a handheld phone, applying makeup, etc, cause you to break traffic laws by speeding, weaving, missling signals, etc, you should be pulled over and ticketed for whatever traffic laws you broke or at least inattentive driving.

      LaHood didn’t want to just stop at banning texting while driving though, he had a hard-on for banning almost any kind of electronic device interaction while driving, which is way overboard.

      I support the requirement for backup cameras. Every vehicle already had electrical leads running to the rear for the lights, and both LCD screens and cameras are dirt cheap. You can get a pre-paid no-contract cell phone with a video capable camera and full color LCD for around $30. Sure, automotive-environment hardened electronics might be a bit more, but the cost is still negligible in something as expensive as a new car, and the safety benefits are huge.

      As rear decks get ever higher and rear windows ever smaller it just makes sense to mandate a way to actually see what’s behind you when in reverse. Yes, it’s still a good idea to use the mirrors and windows, and to walk behind your vehicle before backing up, but everyone slips on when it comes to caution from time to time and having an actual view of what’s behind you will both save lives and insurance costs as it should cut down on people backing into stationary objects quite a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The most dangerous thing I do behind the wheel is eat a double cheese burger combo/meal. Texting and web browsing don’t even break the top 10.

      I keep all distractions to a minimum and at low speeds obviously, but there’s no excuse for any distraction behind the wheel that causes a crash. We all do some form of multitasking behind the wheel and it may be simply daydreaming that causes a crash.

      When I do use a hand held device while driving, I’ll hold it up high with hands at the 11 and 1 o’clock positions on the wheel. Of course, I always keep the road and traffic ahead with in my field of vision, and even when they’re not completely in focus for moments at a time, they’re always on my mind.

      My techniques are the safest way to do it, IF you’re going to do it.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Whoa, there now!

    “We’re not done with Toyota yet!”

    That statement did more to propel Toyota back to the top spot as the biggest global auto manufacturer than nationalizing GM did. And all this in spite of major disasters in Japan and elsewhere. Truly remarkable accomplishments on any scale, in any country.

    It only goes to show that sinking $50Billion into dead automaker GM does not bring it back to life. At best, you’re stuck with a zombie.

    I expect VW to overtake GM as well, as more and more buyers throw their wallet behind quality products instead of outdated and outmoded vehicles offered by a failed giant.

    GM’s fan base is shrinking while Toyota’s fan base is growing as more buyers recognize the merits of buying quality vehicles.

    So maybe Ray LaHood was right, and a visionary, because, indeed, “We’re not done with Toyota, yet.”

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      99% of people could not name the Transportataion Secretary (or many other cabinet level holders) so I hardly expect his comment “We’re not done with Toyota yet!” to have been a deciding influence. Are you saying someone looking at the superior Honda Accord will say “no I want a poorer driving, worse styled, lower quality interior car” and choose the Camry?
      Toyota sales went up because production increased, inventory increased and Toyota had great offers ($22K out of the door for a 2012 Camry SE with Nav as I was quoted in November last year, or a $149 a month lease deal).
      Why this obsession with Toyota, many other companies build cars of similar or better quality but have more redeeming features (like styling, driving dynamics etc) – Mazda, Nissan and Honda are 3 examples.

      Also cut the hyperbole, GM is badly managed but dead? New product coming out and profits flowing (if insufficient margin) hardly equates to dead.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mike978, I converted to Toyota in 2008 and owned several blocks of GM stock prior to the middle of 2008. I sold off before the death knell. So GM did very well for me. It could easily have gone the other way for me.

        I also own a 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit which, surprisingly enough, has turned out to be just as good as our old 2008 Highlander Limited. I was surprised! Built by the UAW, imported from Detroit, and no parts have fallen off, so far, and it hasn’t had to be towed to the dealership for anything. Imagine that!

        Let’s not overlook that the Camry is America’s best selling sedan year after year after year. Honda may be OK but it doesn’t sell as well as the Toyota line of vehicles.

        And let’s not forget the memorable Congressional hearings that invited Mr. Akio Toyoda to ‘testify’ so that he could be chastised for sins never committed by his company. Fairness was not on the agenda that day and America supposedly prides itself on being fair. In the case of America’s government, far from it, it turned out.

        The statement, “We’re not done with Toyota yet” only underscored the determination of the Obama administration to get more people to buy Government Motors vehicles by discrediting the best selling Toyota products.

        That strategy backfired miserably. People traded their Detroit rolling junk for Toyota products during C4C. And people continue to choose Toyota over GM to this very day. That, to me, indicates that when people vote with their wallets they expect quality and value in return. What they choose to buy speaks volumes. And what they choose to buy is Toyota, or an F150. GM not so much, except for their fanboys.

        No matter what our individual beliefs, the only thing that matters is what sells. Toyota products may be mediocre by some people’s standards but they sell exceedingly well because they are better than everything else out there, including stuff from GM.

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        “has turned out to be just as good as our old 2008 Highlander Limited.”

        Actually it is leaps and bounds better than a 2008 plastic fantastic Highlander.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        HDC – you didn`t answer the main point. Even if some Government official said “we are not done with Toyota” that doesn`t explain their sales increase in 2012 vs 2011. What explains it (as with Honda who were just as affected, if not more so and had sales increases too) was increased production and inventory.
        I am amazed how well the Camry sells when cars like the great 2013 Accord are in the marketplace and the 2014 Mazda 6 looks impressive (styling, price, fuel economy etc). Why buy the Toyota when better, equally reliable options are there.

        Is the link below part of the Government conspiracy against Toyota?
        http://www.edmunds.com/car-news/toyota-recalled-more-vehicle-in-us-than-any-other-automaker-in-2012.html

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        86SN2001, there is nothing plastic about our Japan-built 2008 Highlander Limited 4X4, probably because it was built in Japan before the cost-cutting measures grabbed a hold for the North American-built Highlanders.

        That’s why I kept our 2008 after buying the 2012 Grand Cherokee because it was so much better than the American-made Highlanders bought by my wife’s sisters. And ours continues to run good. No problems. Can’t ask for better than that.

        mike978, I agree that increased production helped sell more Toyota products, but Ray LaHood’s statement about not being done yet with Toyota was purposely aimed to let the masses know that more bad news and baseless accusations were in store for Toyota, all in order to wean people away from Toyota and get them to buy more Government Motors’ vehicles.

        But as it turned out, people continued to put their faith, trust and money into Toyota products over those from a failed, nationalized auto maker, even with all the bad press and the staged videos marshaled against Toyota by the government and the media.

        Even the GM fans have a hard time correlating the fact that Toyota continued to sell briskly in spite of all the negative press aimed at them, at a time when all vehicle sales were in the toilet.

        That’s probably because MOST Americans believed more in Toyota and what they had done for America and American labor, than they believed in GM and what it had cost the American taxpayers to keep the UAW living large at tax payer expense.

        Everywhere Toyota and the transplants set up shop, the community, area and region flourished. Contrast that with everywhere the UAW and the Detroit 3 had their ops and the proof is self-evident, well, except at the Mexican plants.

        BTW, I think that recalls really are a good thing because the alternative to recalls is exactly what the Detroit 3 did back in the day of the Pinto and the saddlebag gas tanks of GM trucks, which was…… nothing. No recalls. Disavowment of any responsibility for bad design, bad engineering and even worse assembly.

        “Why buy the Toyota when better, equally reliable options are there.” If Honda and the other manufacturer could figure that out, they would have by now. Personally, I think it is consistent quality and value for the money that Toyota offers. That’s why Toyota is once again the largest auto manufacturer, world wide, handily displacing GM. There’s a reason for that.

        When it is time to replace my 2011 Tundra 5.7, I’ll look around but the standard the others have to beat is the one set by my current Tundra.

        I never bought a foreign brand prior to our 2008 Highlander, always drove Detroit. But when we trade off our 2012 Grand Cherokee I am motivated to replace it with a Sequoia 5.7 4X4, if they still make them for 2015.

        Yes, I was surprised that Ray LaHood (a Republican) tried to sabotage Toyota, but he reflected the views of the Obama administration he was a part of.

        Most Americans are grateful for what Toyota and the transplants have done for America and American jobs, but it does conflict with the liberal, far left Democrat agenda to promote union membership and the union loyalty vote.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        @highdesertcat, you might want to check the manufacturing sticker in the driver’s side doorjamb of that 08 Highlander, It might say TMMI,Indiana on it. Toyota has been making them there for the last 2 models.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        To quote mike978 article, “Edmunds says: This is the third time in the last four years that Toyota led in U.S. recalls.”

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I really don`t know where to begin with you HDC, you seem to have become more rabidly anti-GM in the past few months.

        “BTW, I think that recalls really are a good thing because the alternative to recalls is exactly what the Detroit 3 did back in the day of the Pinto…” – umm I bet you didn`t think this 6, 7 or 8 years ago when “domestic” brands led the recall charts and with good reasons because large numbers of recalls indicate problems with quality or product design. A serious lack of consistency there.

        “Why buy the Toyota when better, equally reliable options are there.” If Honda and the other manufacturer could figure that out, they would have by now. Personally, I think it is consistent quality and value for the money that Toyota offers.” – So you really want to argue that Honda has not had as consistent a reputation for reliability and quality as Toyota? Honda has had just as good a reputation in those areas, while at the same time having had a better reputation, consistently, for styling, driving dynamics etc. You seriously want to say you think the Corolla for the past 5 years has been better than the Civic?

        “That’s probably because MOST Americans believed more in Toyota and what they had done for America and American labor, than they believed in GM and what it had cost the American taxpayers to keep the UAW living large at tax payer expense.” Newsflash – neither GM nor Toyota have a majority of the market. In fact a majority of people buy something other than a GM or Toyota predict, GM sells more vehicles than Toyota, so lets not over exaggerate again.

        And finally your comments about La Hood. Do you really think more than 1% of people actually knew he said those things or were influenced at all. I am sure the Interior Secretary put out a press release or did a news interview today. I missed it, what a shock. Most Americans turn to the sports page, a large number do not vote in elections, etc etc. They do not listen to the pontifications of some junior lackey who happens to be a minor cabinet secretary.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mike978, I’m not anti-GM. I owned several blocks of GM stock up to 2008 and sold off at the top. I’m forever grateful to GM for making me a lot of money. But that was then. This is now. GM declared bankruptcy in 2009 and as bailed out at taxpayers’ expense. That really happened!

        It is the revisionists that compel me to comment. In a few short years the revisionists will tell us all that GM never died and that the bailout didn’t happen.

        And some commenters are already trying to re-educate us now that somehow Ray LaHood never tried to publicly persecute Toyota at a time when Obama and the administration clearly tried to sell more Government Motors cars.

        Toyota is the largest auto manufacturer on the planet and sold more vehicles than GM did by about a half million. I can’t help that you missed that bit of news.

        And Toyota did it in spite of the concerted effort on the part of the US government to discredit Toyota with lies and trumped up allegations which were later proven to be false.

        I believe that buyers actively sought out Toyota products in spite of the campaign launched against them because the buyers preferred to buy a Toyota over a GM product. After 2008, I would too.

        I agree that Toyota quality went down the tubes when they started making them in America, using the same suppliers as the Detroit automakers, thus becoming no better than Detroit and suffering just as many, if not more, recalls than Detroit did; because Toyota sells more than Detroit does. The only thing that matters is who sells the most. Everything else is just make believe spin to obscure the truth or obfuscate the actual sales data.

        SpinnyD, that 2008 Highlander was made in Japan. It says so on the door jamb. It came complete with the blue Toyota lashdown straps that were used to anchor it in place during the ocean voyage.

        It entered the US at the Port of Long Beach, CA, in Jan 2008 and was trucked directly to the dealership in El Paso, TX, where I bought it in Jun 2008. All the papers were in the glove compartment and I still have them there.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Toyota sold(more like “made” as a sale happens when a unit is made not sold) a half mllion more cars but recalls almost 4 million more cars than GM last year. Toyota has been No. 1 in recalls for three of the last four years. Honda is right up there in recalls but not as many produced. Sorry it’s not a supplier issue when half a dozen other vendors also used CTS Corp accelerator pedals but not the recalls Toyota made to insert a piece of metal.

        highdesertcat says,
        “I agree that Toyota quality went down the tubes when they started making them in America, using the same suppliers as the Detroit automakers, thus becoming no better than Detroit and suffering just as many, if not more, recalls than Detroit did; because Toyota sells more than Detroit does.”

        I hope the Toyota waiting room has gourmet coffee and pastries to entertain you while you sit with your faux Carhartt.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @HDC…..752,000 Toyotas recalled today. Nothing too exciting,if you don’t mind an “airbag deployment” anytime anywhere, for no apparent reason.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        HDC – I know some commentators are revisionists, but I am not one. GM did have a bankruptcy but you said it was dead now (or a zombie). I think that is factually incorrect.

        I didn`t miss the news that Toyota was the worlds largest manufacturer last year. BS did trumpet that. However we were talking about US sales, because your point was that this increase in sales came about, in part, because of LaHood’s pronouncements. My view is that less than 1% of people heard his opinions and acted on them. If you want to say global sales increased because of him I can guarantee you that even less people in the UK have heard of LaHood than have heard of him in the US. I just think you misjudge how much influence he actually has.
        Are you saying that the Edmunds story is because of a Government vendetta, any proof?

        I can understand people being “anti-GM” because they are relatively speaking a badly managed compared to other major manufacturers. What I don`t understand are people like BS and yourself who are “pro” Toyota. Not pro “import” or pro Japanese per se but pro Toyota. As I have mentioned in earlier posts why buy a Toyota instead of a Mazda, Subaru, Nissan or Honda? All are comparably reliable and arguably have better styling, driving dynamics etc (depending upon the model obviously). But Toyota’s continued success in the US (along with Detroit’s continued success in selling trucks and minimising Tundra sales) does point to customers needing a push and pull to change. A push from their current brand (by having crap product, reliability etc) and a pull from another brand with an appealing product. Detroit showed this in the 80-90′s by pushing people away from them and Toyota et al having good product to pull those displaced owners in. Toyota cars are acceptable and are unlikely to push people away. So there market share is safe.
        However as an auto enthusiast I aspire to something better and with each purchase I look for what I consider is the best car in the segment. I don`t have huge brand loyalty. So when I came to the US I wanted the best mainstream wagon – that in my opinion was the Subaru Legacy (not many competitors at the time – V50, 9-3 Wagon, Passat). Then I needed the best 8 seater mini-van and the Sienna was the best in my opinion. Now I am looking for a new mid-size car and the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord are the top choices.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Sorry guys, I’m not anti-GM but after my excellent experience with Toyota I will admit to being a happy convert and, after my excellent experience, also pro-Toyota.

        To stifle the naysayers, I wish to add I also own a 2012 Grand Cherokee for my wife, so spare me the fanboy crap, OK? I’m an equal opportunity buyer, and I will be buying again next year. (I’m inclined and predisposed to buy a 2014/2015 Sequoia 5.7 4X4 to replace the Grand Cherokee at 3yr/36K, when the warranty expires, because of my excellent experience with my Tundra)

        But the bottom line remains, in America you can choose whatever brand you want to buy and drive. So we have a choice! In exercising that choice many Americans helped make Toyota the well-deserved number 1 auto maker on the planet.

        I believe there was a deliberate effort to degrade and denounce Toyota after GM and Chrysler died because, after a thorough and in-depth investigation it was concluded that the allegations against Toyota were baseless, and IMO more than likely the result of insufficient user IQ on the part of the drivers who made the false allegations.

        I readily agree that Toyota leads the recall list but it is better to have a recall and preempt a possible or potential problem than act like there is no problem at all, which the Detroit 3 did famously for decades. I owned several Detroit products that SHOULD have been recalled but never were.

        I actually owned all Detroit stuff prior to my conversion to Toyota, but I also recognize that Toyota quality has gone down the toilet when they started making them in America, using American suppliers and labor.

        My buddy still has a 1989 made in Japan V6 Camry with 180K+ miles on it that is a daily driver for his granddaughter. They don’t make them like that any more.

        I’ve been fortunate. I have not had any issues with my 2011 made-in-San Antonio, TX Tundra, but that could still happen. Yep, I owned Silverado and an F150 before the Tundra, so I’m expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

        I actually use my truck over long distances, like towing a 9X15 6-wheel trailer loaded with four pallets of boxed ceramic tile and 20 bags of thinset and grout for 96 miles through the desert and another 36 miles up the mountain to an elevation of 9300ft. That’s the measure of what MY truck needs to do. And the Tundra does it better, with more style and a better ride than anything I have owned before.

        So, I do not believe that Toyota and Mr Toyoda were treated fairly by Ray LaHood, the DOT, and the US Congress. Since no apology is forthcoming, the best revenge can only be the loyalty of the buyers who have elevated Toyota to its rightful place at the top of the automotive world, handily displacing GM, which continues to teeter with its global partnerships and alliances.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “My buddy still has a 1989 made in Japan V6 Camry with 180K+ miles on it that is a daily driver for his granddaughter. They don’t make them like that any more.”

        It’s a J-VIN and not a 4? The ones with a 4 were made in Kentucky.

        They don’t make them like that any more, but the XV-10, which is widely considered the pinnacle of non-Lexus Toyota development, and I believe all North American models were made in Kentucky.

        “but I also recognize that Toyota quality has gone down the toilet when they started making them in America, using American suppliers and labor. ”

        It wasn’t US manufacturing, but the cheapening and decontenting of Toyota vehicles, I’d say, that resulted in lower quality, albeit still decent in terms of reliability for people who never change the oil..

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        corntrollio, I just texted my bud. It’s a JT……………..

        ” the cheapening and decontenting of Toyota vehicles, I’d say, that resulted in lower quality”

        Yeah, no doubt, you are right. The regrettable part was that it happened AFTER they started making them in America.

        Mr Toyoda acknowledged the fact and apologized to America at the Congressional Hearing for the precipitous drop in quality and value of Toyota products in America.

        He then immediately appointed new, enhanced, leadership, and the quality of today’s Toyota products is much better than that of just a few years ago.

        Toyota and its dealers bend over backwards to keep and even gain new customers for Toyota products and react immediately to even the slightest murmur of customer discontent, or the slightest hint of a scandal.

        That’s why so many people choose to go with Toyota, and the sales reflect it. I don’t own a Camry, but lots of Americans do. Many people believe that when you buy a Toyota, they will treat you right. Many of those customers are/were former owners of Detroit vehicles who voted with their feet.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Whoa HDC! Don’t choke of that Toyota Kool-Aid.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        NormSV650, naw, man, my observation is based on my own experience and that of my brothers who owned Toyota dealerships in four states. A lot of pressure on them after the SUA debacle. Even more when it was proven a fallacy, to gain back misled and lied-to former Toyota customers.

        They used to complain loudly that District and Region were micromanaging and would drop in for unannounced visits. On one such visit the reps told the salesmanager to “make this sale happen!!!!”

        And the salesmanager did make it happen. The dealership made $973 of which they promptly wrote off $800 in commission for the saleslady.

        Toyota doesn’t pay me for my comments, and I never owned a Toyota product until 2008. But I know a good thing when I see it.

        Again, the campaign launched to discredit Toyota in America was unwarranted and uncalled for since all the facts were not in. Even though the allegations were proven to be false, some people still believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire……..

        It has always been my contention that Toyota should have rewarded Ray LaHood and the Obama administration by picking up all its production and moving it south of the border to Mexico, and importing their products under NAFTA. That would have made the UAW happy, no?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Again, the campaign launched to discredit Toyota in America was unwarranted and uncalled for since all the facts were not in.”

        What Toyota got fined for is not properly disclosing things that it’s required to report on — in that sense, they were guilty of what they did.

        As for the unintended acceleration nonsense (mostly driver error), it’s the media and idiots who watch the local news and political hacks who blew it up into something bigger.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        corntrollio, I believe that could have been resolved without Congressional hearings and the public flogging of Mr Toyoda?

        What do you think?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Almost everything is better without Congressional hearings. Congressional hearings are mostly to benefit the Congress members on that committee, not the people.

        That said, you are now blaming DoT for Congressional hearings?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        corntrollio, I’m sorry about the delayed response. I was not ignoring you.

        I have to contend with incessant dropped connections and resets because they are converting from copper to fiber in my area, and the ttac home page is loading ever so slowly (5-minutes for this page).

        Earlier, I had to leave my keyboard to get ready for a project tomorrow, so I will be gone for the next few days, at least through the weekend, laying 3600sq ft of ceramic tile in a foreclosed house recently purchased by my wife’s dad.

        I have to pick up my illegal alien crew at 5:30am tomorrow, so I have to call it quits for now at this very late hour.

  • avatar
    fiasco

    Jack Baruth for Transportation Secretary!

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Did he back out of the press conference staring only at the video screen on his iphone showing what was behind him?

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Despite the prevailing trend here to hate anyone and everything but one’s own brand of car, I want to thank LaHood for his service, ESPECIALLY his crusade against distracted driving. It’s only sensible. Driving and navigating traffic is a 90% visual activity. It can’t be done well while reading or typing– unless, 86SN2001, you’re able to aim both eyes in different directions and focus one for distance and one a foot away. Most of us can’t do that, so we should just drive, stupid.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    It WAS a $50 billion measure for those “badly needed 130 transportation projects across the Nation.” After the earmarks for pedestrian bridges, bikeways, horse trails, mass-transit rolling stock and lots of feasibility studies, there was only $2.7 billion left for the actual construction projects. When I was a highway engineer, we usually took 5% of the DC numbers to estimate how much on-the-ground work could be done.

    The Wizard Of Id comic strip highlighted how it’s done. King: Whats the cost breakdown of the X-14 failure? Lackey: $18 million for an analysis of the X-13 failure, $23 million for advertising and public awareness, and 1200 bucks for engineering. King: Fire the engineers and get going on the X-15!

    • 0 avatar
      chas404

      Lorenzo is all over it. True true true all true. fix the dang roads. govt projects cost way more due to Davis/Bacon etc too. what a waste.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      In addition to being an enthusiastic driver, I also bike and walk.

      If you think our car infrastructure is bad, you should try biking! It’s cheap, fast, good for my health, and a way to get outside during the workweek. But I live in a relatively bike-friendly town, and there is a LOT we could do to make it easier.

      Yeah, cars are great and we need infrastructure for them, too. But, seriously, firing up a 3000lb vehicle just to carry my chubby @$$ to work is capital-W wasteful. And it runs on fat rather than gasoline, takes the same amount of time, and keeps my car from getting in your way. A bike won’t be all things to all people, but neither is any other aspect of modern life! What’s not to like?

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Sad but true, can someone explain why California could repair all the highways and bridges after that quake in 89 in 2 months and here in the flatlands of NC, our DOT can’t get a 4 lane built in a timely manner. Oh yeah, forgot that it has to surveyed at least 10 times, and then work 1 day a month for a few years before actually getting anything done. I only hope they finish the 401 by-pass around the little dingle-berry called Rolesville before I retire. I only have 13 more years.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      California could repair lifelines quickly. More properly the contractor CC Myers repaired them that quickly. But that’s only the Bay Bridge after the Loma Prieta quake and I-10 after the Northridge quake.

      It took a while to deal with some of the other freeway issues after Loma Prieta:
      Cypress Viaduct/17/I-880 took 8 years
      Central Freeway/US101 never really got repaired, and it took a while to finish the current Octavia Boulevard
      I-280, I think this took at least 6 years, and it traded the 3rd Street exit for dumping you on King Street

      If you look at California roads now, including those freeways, they look like crap and are falling apart, just like much of the infrastructure in this country due to lack of investment.

      You are right that North Carolina takes forever to build roads. Look at I-485 in Charlotte — still not done, and underbuilt in several parts that are done.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        California got bridges and overpasses done quick by paying the contractors something like a $10,000 bonus for every hour they opened them ahead of schedule, but would charge them the same amount for every hour they finished late.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yes, that’s the standard CC Myers contract for rush jobs like this — daily bonus for finishing early and daily penalty for finishing late. I believe they did the same thing when the Bay Bridge was closed for emergency repair work a few years ago.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    LaHood was a control-freak tool. But expect his replacement to be an even worse car-hating maniac, given this administration’s aggressive tone since re-election.

  • avatar

    My most lasting memory of LaHood was watching him beclown himself in front of the attended automotive media at the NAIAS in January of 2010 talking about Chrysler’s exciting new “cutting edge” vehicles when everyone knew that Chrysler had exactly bupkis in the way of new product. You could hear the laughter ripple through the crowd as they laughed at him. One reporter even challenged him, and LaHood doubled down.

    LaHood is the biggest chucklehead of any politician I’ve encountered.


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