Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers — and potentially anyone else in the vehicle — from using them.
“There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that,” said LaHood on MSNBC. LaHood said the cellphone scramblers were one way, and also stressed the importance of “personal responsibility.”
The hosts of Morning Joe pushed the secretary about the possibility of requiring scrambling technology installed in vehicles.
“I think it will be done,” said LaHood. “I think 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 were going to save lives.”
LaHood’s appearance coincided with the transportation department’s launch of the “Faces of Distracted Driving,” an online campaign aimed at scaring drivers safe. The awareness initiative features videos of people who have been injured by distracted drivers.
LaHood has called distracted driving an “epidemic” and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says about 5,000 people a year, or about .001 percent of the U.S. population, die as a result of it. In 2009, however, the NHTSA found that highway fatalities were at the lowest levels since the 1950s. At the time, Lahood applauded the announcement but vowed he “would not rest” until the roads were even safer.
“Am I on a rampage,” said LaHood, who has made distracted driving a top priority of his tenure, in February 2010. “Yes, I am, and why shouldn’t I be?”