Distracted-Driving Fighter Ray LaHood Steps Down as U.S. Transportation Secretary


  • Ray LaHood

    Ray LaHood

    Ray LaHood is stepping down as U.S. Secretary of Transportation. | January 29, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Ray LaHood, who fought to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and fielded tough questions during a congressional investigation concerning massive Toyota recalls, is stepping down from his post as U.S. Transportation Secretary.
  • "I will not serve a second term; but we have more work to do," said LaHood in a post on the U.S. Department of Transportation Web site on Tuesday morning.
  • LaHood was also a key player in instituting tougher Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements.

WASHINGTON — Ray LaHood, who fought to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and fielded tough questions during a congressional investigation concerning massive Toyota recalls, is stepping down from his post as U.S. Transportation Secretary.

LaHood was also a key player in instituting tougher Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements.

"I will not serve a second term; but we have more work to do," said LaHood, a Republican, in a post on the U.S. Department of Transportation Web site on Tuesday morning.

He added: "We have put safety front and center with the distracted-driving initiative and a rule to combat pilot fatigue that was decades in the making."

Oddly enough, President Obama mentioned nothing about distracted driving or tougher fuel economy standards in a statement acknowledging LaHood's departure.

"As Secretary of Transportation, he has fought to create jobs and grow our economy by rebuilding our roads, bridges and transit systems," said Obama in a statement. "Under his leadership, we have made significant investments in our passenger rail system and laid the groundwork for the high-speed rail network of the future. And every American who travels by air, rail or highway can thank Ray for his commitment to making our entire transportation system safer and stronger."

LaHood said he will stay on in his post until a successor is confirmed.

Politico.com on Tuesday said "names swirling for LaHood's potential heirs include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who would bolster the administration's Hispanic credentials, and NTSB Chairwoman Debbie Hersman, who would give him a female cabinet pick. Other long-shot candidates include former Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), who has said he's interested in the job."

Politico.com noted that "LaHood's signature achievement while in office has been his full-court press for cracking down on distracted driving."

The Washington Post also commented on LaHood's "relentless campaign against distracted driving" and "his safety-first mantra." It said the Peoria native had "a higher profile than several predecessors in the role traditionally played out in the shadow of more glamorous cabinet jobs."

Edmunds says: The next U.S. Secretary of Transportation will tackle such tough issues as readying the nation for the advent of autonomous driving, improving the infrastructure for electric and fuel-cell electric vehicles, and such ongoing concerns as distracted driving.

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