Limbaugh: Distracted Driving Regs a Slippery Slope to Totalitarian Rule

Last March, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh made clear that he’s not the sort to shed tears when cyclists get doored. Indeed, cyclists, in his mind, belong on the sidewalks instead of the streets.

Turns out a cyclist’s right to the road isn’t the only area where Limbaugh has fundamental disagreements with Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. During the course of a screed even more bombastic than usual, Limbaugh this week linked distracted driving regulations to brain cancer, communist dictatorships, and sinister government conspiracies.

The bit of news that got Limbaugh’s knickers in a twist — that Secretary LaHood is reportedly pondering a ban on all types of cell phones while driving, including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free devices. Already, LaHood has pushed hard against distracted driving in a campaign that has led to restrictions in many states.

LaHood’s statement to a Bloomberg reporter that an outright ban might be appropriate prompted this from Limbaugh:

What do you think the real reason might be that a federal government, a massive government might be interested in forcing people to not use their cell phones as much?  Remember, now, this is not an isolated incident cell phones created danger while driving. For years they have been telling us that cell phones cause brain cancer. They have been trying to scare us out of using our cell phones for a long time.

This is hardly true.

Though some inclusive studies — typically overhyped in the press — have suggested that cell phones may have some bearing on brain cancer rates, the National Cancer Institute is doing a poor job of scaring American if that is its aim. In a Q & A on the topic posted on its website, the National Cancer Institute notes:

Interphone researchers reported that, overall, cell phone users have no increased risk for two of the most common types of brain tumor?glioma and meningioma. In addition, they found no evidence of increasing risk with progressively increasing number of calls, longer call time, or years since beginning cell phone use. For the small proportion of study participants who reported spending the most total time on cell phone calls, there was some increased risk of glioma, but the researchers considered this finding inconclusive.

This goes on and on, but Limbaugh has never been one to let facts get in the way of his agenda. In this case, that led him to conclude that distracted driving regulations are a slippery slope to Stalin-style dictatorship:

Cell phones, like automobiles, are a singular expression and illustration of unlimited freedom. Cell phones allow people to organize, people of similar viewpoints, plan meetings and so forth, to, say, oppose the government. Totalitarian states, authoritarian states, statists wish to limit the communicative abilities of the population as much as possible. Look at the old Soviet Union. How much news do you think there is in North Korea? How much real news do you think there is in communist China? How much news is there in Cuba?  To authoritarian statist regimes, the free flow of information is the greatest threat to their existence.

Perhaps the half-million people injured each year by distracted drivers, or the friends and families of the 6,000 people killed each year by distracted drivers, may want to exercise their freedom as Americans to tell Limbaugh that he’s dead wrong.