Transportation Dept pushes states, federal gov’t to ban cell phone use while driving

Holly Bensur Contributor
Font Size:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Thursday his recommendation that every state and the federal government ban cell phone use while driving.

LaHood announced a nation-wide initiative called the “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” to convince the remaining 11 states without cell phone bans to pass one.

The transportation secretary also encouraged Congress to adopt a ban on cellphones throughout the U.S. “I don’t have a bill to hand to Congress.  I’ll leave it up to them,” said LaHood.

“I’d be for a national ban, yeah,” said LaHood.

The Secretary had no comment on whether that ban should extend to both handheld and hands-free devices because he believes “research on the relative safety of voice-activated technology is incomplete,” USA Today reported.

LaHood also encouraged automobile manufacturers to reduce the extent of distractions associated with in-car communication devices.

The “Blueprint” also recommends driver education instructors integrate new programs designed to educate students about the dangers and consequences of using a cell phone while driving.

LaHood’s plan is an expansion of a federal experiment that took place in Hartford, Conn. and Syracuse, N.Y. that LaHood claims decreased texting while driving by 72% in Hartford and 32% in Syracuse. He is pumping another $2.4 million in federal grants into both California and Delaware to test increased police crackdowns yet again.

Stopping cell-phone use while driving has been the highest priority of the Obama-era Transportation Department.  LaHood notes that 39 states and the District of Columbia now prohibit texting while driving, while 10 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use while driving.

“We know we have much more work to do,” LaHood said. “One of every 10 highway fatalities is caused by distracted driving. At this very moment, 660,000 drivers are talking on the phone while behind the wheel on our nation’s roadways.”

Follow Holly on Twitter

Tags : ray lahood
Holly Bensur