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LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving

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On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:14AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving

Ray LaHood, United States Transportation Secretary, made a recent statement that he believes a ban should be passed on the use of all cell phones while driving, including hands-free calling and texting.  

Lahood has led the campaign against texting while driving that has resulted in 30 states adopting laws that prohibit motorists from making calls and/or texting while operating a motor vehicle. The government transportation secretary also voiced concern regarding programs such as Ford Motor Company’s Sync and GM’s OnStar program as far as causing driver distraction.

“I don't want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they're driving,” LaHood said in an interview this week. “We need a lot better research on other distractions, including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls and the in-car systems,” he said.

While Lahood’s campaign against mobile phones being used while driving may not necessarily end up in a ban of cell phones in all states, it’s likely that Lahood may influence automakers to reduce the production of technical features such as the Sync.  

According to Olivia Alair, spokeswoman for the NHTSA, “even hands-free phone conversations are a cognitive distraction.”  
Lahood plans to meet with U.S. automakers in order to attempt to gain support for his campaign to limit distracted driving, he announced in a recent interview.

According to Christopher King, a telecommunications analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., in Baltimore, “It's so ingrained at this point, I think banning that would be extremely difficult, bordering on folly.” King said in an interview. “There would be no legitimate, public support for an outright ban.”

The Federal Transportation Department has the power to push limits with industries, for example: when aid is given to states that raise the legal drinking age to 21 or require all motorists and passengers to wear seatbelts.

Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., and General Motors have formed an alliance of automobile manufacturers working to make sure that federal regulators do not succeed in banning mobile phone use for motorists.

According to a spokesperson for the alliance: “Our feeling is it's a matter of balancing what we know people are going to do anyway with what technology can help them do safer in a vehicle. We know that people are going to have conversations and look at maps and listen to music in a vehicle.”

It is estimated that over 5,000 deaths occurred in 2009 that were directly related to accidents resulting from driver distraction while driving, which is a total of 16% of all road fatalities.



imwithcoco | 11:30AM (Tue, Oct 12, 2010)

I'm on board for a ban on texting but banning phone calls? Really? Do I have to duct tape the mouth of each passenger too? Whats next, no radio? It sounds like another way for the government to use "safety" as an excuse to write tickets and make more money. This is just another government "red light camera" like scam. Maybe LaHood would be a better driver if he took his head out of his ass.

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