Transportation Secretary LaHood says cellphones and driving don’t mix

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that he plans federal action to combat texting and other sources of distracted driving, which he calls a ‘menace to society.’

By Alexander C. Hart
September 30, 2009
Reporting from Washington

In 2008, Linda Doyle was killed at an Oklahoma intersection when another driver — who was using a cellphone — ran a red light and struck her car.

On Monday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told more than 200 people participating in a meeting on the dangers of distracted driving that he intended to take federal action to combat this “menace to society.”

“Every single time you take your eyes off the road or talk on the phone while you’re driving, even for just a few seconds, you put your life in danger, and you put others in danger too,” LaHood said. “This kind of behavior is irresponsible, and the consequences are devastating.”

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Tuesday in Congress

800px-Plane_crash_into_Hudson_River_muchcroppedphoto credit - Greg L. Photo licensed under a Creative Commons license

Well, not much to report for Congress on Monday. The cloture vote will occur today at 11 a.m., and we´ll make sure to bring you the results ASAP.

Tuesday is a similarly uneventful day. Tonight, President Obama will address Congress in a quasi-State of the Union speech.

Today´s hottest place to be on Capitol Hill: the House Subcommittee on Aviation hearing. Starting at 10 a.m., they will be hearing testimony on the crash of U.S. Airways flight 1549. Flight 1549 was the plane that landed safely in the Hudson river on January 15, 2009 after bird strikes disabled its engines.

The star witness is everyone´s new-found hero, Captain Chesley ¨Sully¨ Sullenberger III. The co-pilot, three flight attendants who were on board at the time and the air traffic controller involved are all testifying as well. 

Also appearing are representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA, as well as John Ostrom, Chairman of the USA Bird Strike Committee.

But is this hearing necessary? Jim Berard, communications director for the transportation committee, thinks so.

¨At this point, we don´t know until we find out what the testimony is,¨ Berard said when asked what the ultimate purpose of the hearing is. “We don’t always hold hearings with a particular
goal — sometimes the goal is to create an official record for Congress.”

He suggested the hearing could demonstrate a need for new legislation or guide the FAA in future rule making.

You can watch the hearing live at the House committee on Transportation and Infrastructure´s Web site.

Is this hearing worthwhile or is it just an expensive photo op? Tell us what you think.