LaHood Targets Ford’s Sync Ad for Distracted Driving

Carmaker changes ad about hands-free device after Transportation boss complains.


By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

In his bid to get state governments and local police to enforce laws barring drivers from texting behind the wheel and using phone devices, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has started to do some policing on his own.

The former Illinois congressman was working out recently in the House of Representatives gym, where he still has a pass, and saw a new Ford ad promoting its Sync system for hands-free calling and navigation. The ad featured a 20-something girl bragging on the Sync system as she drove down the road, looking out every window but the front one. After his workout, LaHood called Ford CEO Alan Mulally to complain. "He thought it was promoting distracted driving," says a LaHood aide.

It worked. A few days later, Ford called LaHood's chief of staff to say it was taking the ad off the air. A Ford spokeswoman told Whispers: "We didn't take it down totally. We modified it to address a concern he expressed."

That was enough. "I think it's safe to say that the secretary really appreciated Mulally being responsive on this," says LaHood's spokeswoman.

But LaHood's not totally satisfied. He tells us that he'd still like the Sync system removed from cars.

  • See a slide show of Obama's 5 best cabinet secretaries.
  • See a gallery of political caricatures.