National Center for Public Policy Research Reacts to DOT’s Proposed Federal Ban on All Cell Phone Use While Driving

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced on Thursday that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is pushing for Congress to ban all cell phone usage while driving. Previously the federal authorities, including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), had recommended that such bans were appropriate by only state and local governments.

The following statement from Horace Cooper, adjunct fellow with the National Center and a legal commentator, may be used for attribution:

Last year we warned that Washington, DC would respond to the problem of distracted driving with a heavy handed solution. One that demonstrates that Washington is out of sync with the needs of mainstreet Americans. Instead of solutions which are voluntary and rely on education and technology, LaHood seeks out the hysterical approach of banning cell phone use outright — this is a solution whose time hasn’t come.

This solution is particularly inappropriate in light of the reality that there are any number of distractions that the typical driver faces when they get behind the wheel. Pretending it will be safer merely because we can’t use our phones any more is absurd, but likely to result in needlessly higher fines and insurance costs for already hard hit household budgets.

Treating cell phone use like drunk driving is particularly wrong-headed and assumes that cell-phone use and accessibility are casual novelties instead of the critical 21st century critical tool most Americans rely on. Unlike Washington, adults all across America understand the difference between responsible use of their cellphone and alcoholic misuse.

Horace Cooper has appeared on numerous radio programs discussing the pros and cons of government cell phone-use bans, such as a December interview on National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show. He is an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a member of the African-American leadership group Project 21 and a legal commentator. He taught constitutional law at George Mason University in Virginia and was a senior counsel to U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters. In 2011 it received over 350,000 individual donations. Two percent of its revenue comes from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.