LaHood considering outright cell ban in cars

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has heightened his rhetoric in the distracted driving debate, proposing in an interview with Bloomberg that an outright ban on cell phone use in vehicles may be appropriate. 

He said drivers are distracted by any in-vehicle gadget use, even the hands-free kind, and research may lead him to encourage states to ban the devices from cars, according to the report. 

“I don’t want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they’re driving,” LaHood said the interview. “We need a lot better research on other distractions.”

That includes more research on Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls and the in-car systems, LaHood said.

Hands-free devices, which can enable voice-activated texting and calling, are a "cognitive distraction," LaHood said. He could encourage a ban on hands-free electronics if research suggests that's necessary, a department spokeswoman told Bloomberg.

Christopher King, a telecommunications analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said an outright vehicle cell phone ban could be tough to implement, Bloomberg reported.

“It’s so ingrained at this point, I think banning that would be extremely difficult, bordering on folly,” King said. “There would be no legitimate, public support for an outright ban.”