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Lobbyists Mobilize Against Oprah's Distracted Driving Campaign

A lobbyist group angling to represent the mobile phone industry and known by the acronym DRIVE, or "Drivers for Responsibility, Innovation and Vehicle Education," is countering efforts by Oprah Winfrey and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to curb distracted driving accidents through greater regulation, Fair Warning reported. 

Fair Warning, a non-governmental organization that serves as a corporate watchdog, linked to a 10-page internal DRIVE document describing its efforts to push back against campaigns to limit mobile phone use in the car (PDF).   

The rationale for the mobile industry's resistance to distracted driving laws is simple: Fears about the dangers of texting and driving (some, including Oprah, have advocated against all mobile phone use while driving) translates into fewer minutes and thus lower profits.

While Chicago motorists typically wouldn't hire Chicago DUI lawyers to defend against a texting while driving ticket, which is just an infraction, there are many similarities.

Still, business is business. The DRIVE memo outlines its concerns:

"In less than six months, a benign debate about teens and texting has morphed into a full-throttle assault on mobile technology. With industries remaining silent, national transportation authorities and media celebrities have hijacked the debate, a dire consequence to reasonable regulation."

The so-called "benign" debate has escalated into pleas by heartbroken mothers grieving over the loss of their children who demand tougher regulations, akin to DUI laws. DRIVE is hoping to recover lost ground and shift the debate from regulation to driver awareness while "providing industry cover," according to the organization's own memo.

The lobbyists thus far are still looking for companies to join the DRIVE campaign, which could be derailed by its public outing.

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