For Ray LaHood, a standing ovation

Early critics were amazed to find DOT chief Ray LaHood campaigning, fiercely, against drivers' use of distracting electronic devices such as cell phones. He took it as a compliment. "Am I on a rampage?" LaHood said in the early years of his term. "Yes, I am, and why shouldn't I be?" Politicians and bureaucrats don't talk that way, but LaHood did. He cited a rising national death toll as drivers increasingly talked & texted their way down our streets and highways. Who can say how many lives (many of them young) were saved as LaHood used the DOT's bully pulpit in his campaign against … [Read more...]

Stick shifts slowing distracted teens

Stick shifts aren't extinct -- it just seems that way -- and concerns over teen safety may be helping the manual transmission systems make a mini-comeback. A Northern California TV station reports that some area parents are buying their teenagers vehicles with stick shifts in order to keep the kids' hands off cell phones. Sacramento News10 interviewed a 17-year-old who says that while many of her friends text and drive, "With a stick shift, I can't really check my phone," she said. Her parents bought her a Honda Civic. Stick shifts have largely disappeared in the U.S., with about 5.5 … [Read more...]

‘It’s time’: Ban all cell phone use by drivers

Someone had to go first. The National Transportation Safety Board just jumped through the burning hoop, and the national debate over electronic distracted driving abruptly shifted to discussion of a complete ban on cell phones and similar devices. About time. Proponents and foes of laws against distracted driving agree, oddly enough, that the watery prohibitions being dispensed by many states are of little use and make little sense. The legislative "compromise" of saddling distracted driving laws with secondary enforcement is a joke. What if speeding tickets were only handed out if drivers … [Read more...]

Faces of Distracted Driving: Heather Hurd

Heather Hurd is the latest victim featured by the U.S. DOT in its "Faces of Distracted Drivng" video series. In 2008, the 26-year-old was on the way to her wedding planner's office in Orlando when a trucker who was fumbling for his text messaging device slammed into nine vehicles at a red light. Hurd and another woman were killed, and Hurd's fiance was seriously injured. The wreck occurred on Florida’s infamous "Bloody 27" highway. A stretch of the road was renamed in Heather Hurd's memory. Her parents became distracted driving activists and went on to help create Heather's Law (2009) in … [Read more...]

Double trouble for distracted driver; mayor busted

A pair of odds and ends, with the emphasis on odd: Here's a candidate for the world's most brazen distracted driver: British police were in the process of stopping David Secker of Norwich for using a handheld cell phone while driving on a freeway. To their astonishment, the officers then realized that he was texting on another cell phone. The capper: Secker reportedly made the officer wait for him to finish his cell phone call. Sentencing is Aug. 15. Toronto's mayor allegedly gave the finger to a citizen who scolded him for using a cell phone while driving. Ottilie Mason said she gave … [Read more...]