Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Wants Nationwide Ban On Cellphone Use While Driving

    April 27, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

In today’s installment of the “good luck with that” files, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has come out in favor of an all-out ban of the use of cellphones while driving. This would prohibit anyone from using their device for any reason – calls, texting, Facebooking – while driving on a road in the United States.

This call came while LaHood was speaking at the Texas Distracted Driving Summit, via Reuters.

“Everyone has a cell phone and too many of us think it is OK to talk on our phones while we are driving,” he said. He went on to call distracted driving an “epidemic” and said that it’s necessary that police have “the opportunity to write tickets when people are foolishly thinking they can drive safely or use a cell phone and text and drive.”

#Texas #DistractedDriving Summit keeps the focus on #safety http://t.co/8UuFUSst 5 hours ago via bitly ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

“In light of two new studies, one by our own National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and one by Bridgestone, distracted driving is still a dangerous epidemic, particularly among our youngest drivers,” LaHood said in a recent blog post. “Raising awareness is a critical part of helping to curb this dangerous behavior. Passing good laws and backing them up with strong enforcement is also crucial.”

As of right now, 10 states have bans in place on the use of handheld cellphones. 37 states currently ban texting by any driver. A nationwide ban would be a whole other animal, however.

In December of 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board proposed a similar nationwide ban on cellphone use while driving. Their suggestion extended to hands-free bluetooth devices that weren’t factory installed. That suggestion didn’t receive a lot of public support.

It’s important to note that the NTSB is an independent organization, having severed ties with the Department of Transportation back in 1975. So Ray LaHood’s suggestion isn’t just a rehash of this previous NTSB statement.

Here’s the brief opinion portion of the article. I’m in no way insensitive to the victims of accidents involving distracted driving. I think that texting, Facebooking, and any other activity like that shouldn’t be a part of your daily commute. I’m just not sure about a nationwide ban on all cellphone use while driving. Limited government advocates will shout overreach, and they might have good reason. Not only that, but enforcement would be a nightmare. By and large, I’m doubtful anyone could stop people from making calls behind the wheel.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.distraction.gov Jennifer Zamora

    Driving a vehicle is a privilege, not a right. When the use of that vehicle is done in a manner that endangers lives then consequences should be imposed. There is not an argument on this planet that can justify holding a phone in your hand while driving. Second hand smoke was rightfully utilized as an argument to ban smoking in public areas. Why then, is it such a fight to ban someone from dangerously operating a 4000lb piece of equipment at high rates of speed? Unlike second hand smoke, the act of distracted driving can instantly kill, maim or disfigure an innocent person. This is not big brother controlling our lives, this is a government reigning in an overly obnoxious, instant gratification, self absorbed society that selfishly believes that their desire to dangerously text or talk while driving supersedes my right to have my husband return home safely from a shopping trip.

    • J Wilkes

      Cell Phone Bans…. No Supporting Date ! Like a lot of
      issues…the data doesn’t indicate any effective change after
      such cell phone laws . Insurance Industry has tried to quantify
      this with 2 major studies.
      I know you and the Sec R. Lahood…don’t really care to hear
      the facts. Unfortunately facts are stubborn things.!!

      As an insurance industry professional for over 35yrs ….the industry has 2 major studies on the effects of cell phone
      bans -vs- states without. Your concerns are not borne out
      by insurance industry studies.

      Pls see from Ins Institute for Hwy Safety & Hwy Loss Data
      Institute studies: 2010 { 7 yr and 4 yr studies – comparison
      of Calif /NY/ Washington DC/ Conn -v- states adjacent not having
      bans. Insurance Journal Mag -feb 2010}

      To quote from findings:

      “These insurance industry studies has found that state laws banning the use of handheld devices to make calls or send text messages while driving have not resulted in fewer vehicle crashes.”

      Please study this issue further. Believe us in the industry…we were taken back with an expected study
      result. The insurance industry would love to factor “cell phone” actuarial factors into the auto rate structures.

      ie Facts are a stubborn thing !

      • http://www.dbugking.com/ Donald V Dunham


        For years professionals within the criminal justice system have acted on the belief that traveling by motor vehicle was a privilege that was given to a citizen only after approval by their state government in the form of a permit or license to drive. In other words, the individual must be granted the privilege before his use of the state highways was considered legal. Legislators, police officers, and court officials are becoming aware that there are court decisions that disprove the belief that driving is a privilege and therefore requires government approval in the form of a license. Presented here are some of these cases:

        CASE #1: “The use of the highway for the purpose of travel and transportation is not a mere privilege, but a common fundamental right of which the public and individuals cannot rightfully be deprived.” Chicago Motor Coach v. Chicago, 169 NE 221.

        CASE #2: “The right of the citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city may prohibit or permit at will, but a common law right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thompson v. Smith, 154 SE 579. It could not be stated more directly or conclusively that citizens of the states have a common law right to travel, without approval or restriction (license), and that this right is protected under the U.S Constitution.

        CASE #3: “The right to travel is a part of the liberty of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.” Kent v. Dulles, 357 US 116, 125.

        CASE #4: “The right to travel is a well-established common right that does not owe its existence to the federal government. It is recognized by the courts as a natural right.” Schactman v. Dulles 96 App DC 287, 225 F2d 938, at 941.

        As hard as it is for those of us in law enforcement to believe, there is no room for speculation in these court decisions. American citizens do indeed have the inalienable right to use the roadways unrestricted in any manner as long as they are not damaging or violating property or rights of others. Government—in requiring the people to obtain drivers licenses, and accepting vehicle inspections and DUI/DWI roadblocks without question—is restricting, and therefore violating, the people’s common law right to travel.

        Is this a new legal interpretation on this subject? Apparently not. This means that the beliefs and opinions our state legislators, the courts, and those in law enforcement have acted upon for years have been in error. Researchers armed with actual facts state that case law is overwhelming in determining that to restrict the movement of the individual in the free exercise of his right to travel is a serious breach of those freedoms secured by the U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions. That means it is unlawful. The revelation that the American citizen has always had the inalienable right to travel raises profound questions for those who are involved in making and enforcing state laws. The first of such questions may very well be this: If the states have been enforcing laws that are unconstitutional on their face, it would seem that there must be some way that a state can legally put restrictions—such as licensing requirements, mandatory insurance, vehicle registration, vehicle inspections to name just a few—on a citizen’s constitutionally protected rights. Is that so?

        For the answer, let us look, once again, to the U.S. courts for a determination of this very issue. In Hertado v. California, 110 US 516, the U.S Supreme Court states very plainly:

        “The state cannot diminish rights of the people.” (license)?
        And in Bennett v. Boggs, 1 Baldw 60,

        “Statutes that violate the plain and obvious principles of common right and common reason are null and void.”
        Would we not say that these judicial decisions are straight to the point—that there is no lawful method for government to put restrictions or limitations on rights belonging to the people? Other cases are even more straight forward:

        “The assertion of federal rights, when plainly and reasonably made, is not to be defeated under the name of local practice.”

        Davis v. Wechsler, 263 US 22, at 24

        “Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436, 491.

        “The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime.” Miller v. US, 230 F 486, at 489.
        There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of this exercise of constitutional rights.” Sherer v. Cullen, 481 F 946

        We could go on, quoting court decision after court decision; however, the Constitution itself answers our question – Can a government legally put restrictions on the rights of the American people at anytime, for any reason? The answer is found in Article Six of the U.S. Constitution:

        “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof;…shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the Contrary not one word withstanding.” In the same Article, it says just who within our government that is bound by this Supreme Law:

        “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”

        Here’s an interesting question. Is ignorance of these laws an excuse for such acts by officials? If we are to follow the letter of the law, (as we are sworn to do), this places officials who involve themselves in such unlawful acts in an unfavorable legal situation. For it is a felony and federal crime to violate or deprive citizens of their constitutionally protected rights. Our system of law dictates that there are only two ways to legally remove a right belonging to the people. These are:

        by lawfully amending the constitution, or
        by a person knowingly waiving a particular right.

        Some of the confusion on our present system has arisen because many millions of people have waived their right to travel unrestricted and volunteered into the jurisdiction of the state. Those who have knowingly given up these rights are now legally regulated by state law and must acquire the proper permits and registrations. There are basically two groups of people in this category:

        Citizens who involve themselves in commerce upon the highways of the state. Here is what the courts have said about this: ”…For while a citizen has the right to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, that right does not extend to the use of the highways…as a place for private gain. For the latter purpose, no person has a vested right to use the highways of this state, but it is a privilege…which the (state) may grant or withhold at its discretion…” State v. Johnson, 245 P 1073. There are many court cases that confirm and point out the difference between the right of the citizen to travel and a government privilege and there are numerous other court decisions that spell out the jurisdiction issue in these two distinctly different activities. However, because of space restrictions, we will leave it to officers to research it further for themselves.

        The second group of citizens that is legally under the jurisdiction of the state are those citizens who have voluntarily and knowingly waived their right to travel unregulated and unrestricted by requesting placement under such jurisdiction through the acquisition of a state driver’s license, vehicle registration, mandatory insurance, etc. (In other words, by contract.) We should remember what makes this legal and not a violation of the common law right to travel is that they knowingly volunteer by contract to waive their rights. If they were forced, coerced or unknowingly placed under the state’s powers, the courts have said it is a clear violation of their rights. This in itself raises a very interesting question. What percentage of the people in each state have applied for and received licenses, registrations and obtained insurance after erroneously being advised by their government that it was mandatory?

        Many of our courts, attorneys and police officials are just becoming informed about this important issue and the difference between privileges and rights. We can assume that the majority of those Americans carrying state licenses and vehicle registrations have no knowledge of the rights they waived in obeying laws such as these that the U.S. Constitution clearly states are unlawful, i.e. laws of no effect – laws that are not laws at all. An area of serious consideration for every police officer is to understand that the most important law in our land which he has taken an oath to protect, defend, and enforce, is not state laws and city or county ordinances, but the law that supersedes all other laws—the U.S. Constitution. If laws in a particular state or local community conflict with the supreme law of our nation, there is no question that the officer’s duty is to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

        Every police officer should keep the following U.S. court ruling—discussed earlier—in mind before issuing citations concerning licensing, registration, and insurance:

        “The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime.” Miller v. US, 230 F 486, 489.
        And as we have seen, traveling freely, going about one’s daily activities, is the exercise of a most basic right.

    • http://www.dbugking.com/ Donald V Dunham

      You are wrong, driving IS NOT A PRIVILEGE, If you new what Is Is to be an American you would know you are wrong.

  • J Wilkes

    CELL PHONE BANS – Have no Effect

    Secretary Lahood and US DOT — Crusade against Cell Phones is starting to take on the “hysterical” aspects of “AGW -Global Warming”

    Like many in the insurance industry…we insurance underwriters
    were surprised by the
    statistical results from 2 major studies .released in 2010.

    Completed by 1} Ins Institute for Hwy Safety & 2} Hwy Loss Data
    Institure.{ summarized in FEB 2010 Insurance Journal Magazine}
    ” A new insurance industry study has found that state laws banning the use of handheld devices to make calls or send text messages while driving have not resulted in fewer vehicle crashes.”

    Cell bans have been around for over 12 yrs now …in a number of
    major states. Both these studies covered 7+ yrs… primarily
    compared Cell Banned States [ CA/CT/NY /Wash DC ] before and after and also compared stats for similiar states & adjacent states…that had no Cell Bans.

    Unfortunately…it appears we are being “driven” by an invested
    group of public officials & tax funded foundations.
    This seems to take on the trappings of the ” global warming” scare.

    Unfortunately… Facts are stubborn things!!

    PS; The Ins Industry would love to factor in auto & truck rate preconceptions –
    but … the stats just don’t correlate actuary.

    Lahood and heavily subsidized $$ taxpayer funded groups cannot
    find …unbiased support. There just seems to be too much
    of this tax funded manipulation going on.

  • Rob Gustave

    The letter of the law is often foolish like letting lawyers dictate to judges how to rule or making rules that suppress people needlessly. Personally is someone is talking on a cell phone maybe two times out of tho thousand times they inconvenienced me because they didn’t have good reflexes. Beware pharmaceutical drivers on the road a million times worse. Driving should be a right not a privilege. And a car is an extention of ones home. And there should be rights as we had pre-the inside job known as 911 which was used to steal our civil liberties. And make needless war killing many many people who were absolutely innocent. For unjust ends. (Thermite proves this alone). People use ear phones now a lot. But I agree texting ought not be allowed in a moving vehicle by the driver.