Device to auto-shut-down cellphones when car starts?

by Walter Olson on March 9, 2010

Yes, that’s what Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has actually suggested. Think of what a great idea in emergencies! [Bedard/U.S. News via Radley Balko, Reason "Hit and Run"]

{ 8 comments }

1 GregS 03.09.10 at 10:41 am

And not just a device to shut down cellphones – he also wants a law to make it a federal crime to text while driving. It’s a good illustration of how federalism is dead in America; that now even the smallest and most specialized of problems is considered to be a matter for federal lawmaking and regulation. It’s also a good illustration of how today’s headlong rush into statism is a bipartisan affair – LaHood is a Republican.

2 Roy B 03.09.10 at 10:44 am

Yesterday, March 8 a gentleman had an issue with his vehicle near San Diego. He could not stop the vehicle and called 911. A police officer found him and helped him come to a stop without harm. Just think if his cell phone did not work, I guess if he survived the crash and was ejected far enough from the still running engine he would then be able to make the call.

3 Kurt 03.09.10 at 11:26 am

Does this also mean that passengers can’t use a cell phone while riding in the car? Will this device only work on phones that are being help by people in the driver’s seat?

4 Penfold 03.09.10 at 11:33 am

IIRC, isn’t there a federal law from the 1930’s which bans interfering with wireless signals? How would they limit the blocking to only my vehicle?

5 Benjamin 03.09.10 at 11:35 am

GregS said, “LaHood is a Republican.”

I have to question the Republican credentials of a member of Barack Obama’s cabinet. At best La Hood is a RINO(Republican in Name Only). At worse, he is another corrupt Illinois politician who didn’t care what party he joined to gain power.

6 nevins 03.09.10 at 1:48 pm

Roy B.
The idiot with the cell phone is not a great example for keeping cell phone use in the hands of motorists. The cure for a run away car is simply to put it in neutral or turn off the ignition (one click only so that the steering does not lock).
Even if we grant 100% efficacy that cell phones will eliminate runaway car deaths, the number of lives saved will be 1:1000 those harmed by the cell phones and other gadgets in use merely for entertainment.
I don’t like the feds getting involved; this should be a state matter. Perhaps it should be dealt with as less a criminal matter and must make it a strict liability matter; the party using the gadget is at fault unless they can can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are not.

7 Ed 03.09.10 at 2:39 pm

Perhaps the laws that are already on the books in every state for reckless driving should be applied. That way we can cover eating, reading, listening to the radio, talking to a passenger, drinking your coffee, operating your laptop, operating your GPS, reading your map, and any other distracting operation that is going on.

Saves having to write a new law for every one of these situations.

BTW, why is it that in areas where states have already banned cell phone use while driving, it is still ok for the police to use theirs? For that matter why can they use their laptop or other radio devices, aren’t they just as distracting to the task of driving?

8 Doug 03.09.10 at 6:33 pm

Would this be even technically feasible?

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