Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary

Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary

According to news reports this morning, president-elect Obama has tapped Republican Illinois Representative, Ray LaHood to be the Secretary of the Department of Transportation.

At this moment, it is unclear to me what Ray LaHood’s position is vis-a-vis photo enforcement or what the potential impact of his appointment as Transportation Secretary will be on efforts to expand the use of photo enforcement, nationally. At any rate, Mr. LaHood will inherit a transportation department and its related administrations (such as RITA) that have historically positioned themselves as proponents of automated photo enforcement.

Here’s a brief bio of Ray LaHood:

Ray LaHood, Obama’s favorite Republican to be Transportation Secretary

I can only hope that if he is charged to rebuild the nation’s transportation infrastructure as a primary task, that he does so honestly, without the coercion of RedFlex paid lobbyists, and without the use of revenues generated by the expanded nationwide usage of automated photo enforcement such as red light cameras and speed cameras.

I am all for the re-investment into our roadway and transportation systems (including high-speed rail), but I would also like to see the implementation of sound traffic safety guidelines (and consideration of alternative approaches to enhancing traffic safety) as an essential part of this process.

What we don’t need is more heavy-handed enforcement (with a predisposition to blaming ‘speed‘ as the primary cause of accidents) with ginned-up studies supporting such tactics.

If new revenue streams are needed to finance such an ambition, I’d personally prefer to see an increase of the federal gas tax (which is low by other countries’ standards) by an additional $1.00 per gallon, provided that the funds would be used solely for infrastructure-related improvements.

Not only would this fairly distribute the “burdens” to all users of the transportation system, it would continue to incentivize smaller and more fuel efficient vehicle use, now that fuel prices have dropped precipitously and incentives to otherwise do so, may have abated if even for the short-term.

Since big money and politics will invariably be involved, I suspect this will be impossible to achieve.

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