LaHood Sticks His Neck Out for Safety

Staff Blog

Staff Blog | Oct 15, 2010

By Doug Berman

We all know what happens to politicians who take courageous stances. Raise the retirement age for social security so it'll stay solvent? Raise taxes to pay for the services we want? Use a gasoline tax to decrease our dependence on foreign oil? Cut the military to where it's only nine times larger than any other country's? Try making any of these suggestions and we all know the result; you end up like a Yugo that got landed on by a Toyota Sequoia. Take a wussy stand that we can have it all, that no one needs to be inconvenienced, and you can sit in Congress until Son of Jersey Shore IV hits the cineplex.

So here's a shout out to Ray LaHood, still (as of publication time) U.S. Secretary of Transportation. LaHood said, in an interview with Bloomberg News , that the U.S. has a responsibility to consider banning all use of cell phones in cars -- hands free or hands occupied -- because the cognitive distraction they're causing is leading to rampant death and destruction. OK, those are my words. He put it more artfully. He says he plans to initiate research that could....COULD... lead to the conclusion that cell phones don't belong in cars. To which the current crop of neuro-psychological researchers say, "Duh!"

Predictably, the "you can have my cell phone when you peel it from my cold, dead hands" crowd has spoken up. Of course, they don't mention that we already ARE peeling cell phones from their cold, dead hands...hands that should have been gripping their steering wheels.

Realistically, it's hard to imagine a total ban on automotive cell phone use now. Once you allow a privilege, it's awfully hard to take it away (see: Prohibition. See also: Staying up 'til 8:30 to watch The Simpsons). But if you want to see a small act of courage by a public official in today's hyper wussy political environment, I give you a small act of courage. Hats off, and phones off, this week to Ray LaHood.

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