The Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood may be experiencing some repetitive whiplash.
Responding to a couple articles written in The Daily Caller, LaHood took to his blog in order to clarify his position about whether or not he “believed we should employ a specific technology that would block cell phone signals in cars to prevent drivers from talking or texting behind the wheel.”
“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,” LaHood had said on MSNBC. “We need to do a lot more if were going to save lives.”
In his blog post on Thursday, the Secretary clarified his statements with another quote taken from his MSNBC appearance:
“There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that. A number of [cell technology innovators] came to our Distracted Driving Summit here in Washington and presented their technology, and that’s one way. But you have to have good laws, you have to have good enforcement, and you have to have people take personal responsibility. That’s the bottom line.” [Highlighted for enjoyment]
“The boom line,” LaHood repeated after the excerpt, was “personal responsibility.”
“For starters, there will never be a technological device that imparts common sense when it comes to safe driving,” he said. LaHood later added that “No one should need a piece of technology in their car to tell them that talking or texting while driving is incredibly dangerous.”
Sometimes, however, folks do need a little help developing “personal responsibility,” which is why LaHood reminded those reading his blog that:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently conducting broad distracted driving research so that we can expand what we know about the problem and look for ways to solve it. As part of that research, NHTSA is also evaluating some kinds of technologies that might one day prove helpful, such as collision avoidance and lane departure warning systems. But we also recognize the limitations of technology.
When Lahood said in the blog post that distracted driving was something the DOT would “tackle on all fronts,” he means on the technological front, too.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Driver Distraction Plan” sent to TheDC by the DOT specifically mentions the “emerging technical option in managing distractions.” This option specifically includes software that could be “downloaded to a cell phone, [and] has thresholds past which calls are not sent through to the driver but instead sent to voicemail; text messages are also blocked.”
After conducting a survey of the technology, the DOT said “this information can then be used to assess the overall feasibility of these as a countermeasure for distracted driving,” according to the plan. Currently, the NHTSA is “in the planning stages of this project” with a final report expected next year.
Neither the DOT nor the NHTSA responded to requests made by TheDC for further details on this “emerging technical option.”
On Monday, the Department of Transportation launched its awareness week campaign, “The Faces of Distracted Driving Week.” However, it’s not clear whether the campaign was originally intended to include LaHood himself.