Perhaps LaHood’s most passionate work involved distracted driving, which he called a “national epidemic.” He launched a national media campaign to end texting and cellphone use by drivers, an awareness campaign that drew comparisons to efforts to promote seat belt use more than a generation ago. He buttonholed auto executives to help reduce driver distraction and would even yell at other drivers on occasion to put down their cellphones.
“Every time someone takes their focus off the road — even if it’s just for a moment — they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” he said in 2010.
During his tenure he slapped Toyota Motor Co. with record fines for delaying safety recalls and failing to promptly report problems to federal regulators. And he recently ordered United Airlines to ground its Boeing 787 Dreamliner following mishaps with the aircraft’s batteries.