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For more than a year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has sought to lobby states to recognize the dangers of using mobile phones while driving. Citing increasing injuries and deaths, including the fatal crash of a teenage girl in his own Illinois hometown who swerved off the road while texting, LaHood has fought hard against "distracted driving," even convincing President Obama to ban federal employees from using cell phones while driving. LaHood's efforts, and the support of Oprah Winfrey, have put the mobile phone industry on the defensive, until recently.

Seward Square Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, drew up a plan to oppose limiting the use of mobile phones and other devices while driving. The effort was designed to galvanize industry-wide support from mobile phone companies, automakers, handset manufacturers, insurance companies and others to deflect attention and discussion away from distracted driving. The industry maintains that technology should not be banned, but that people should be educated.

The National Safety Council estimates that cell phone use is involved in 28 percent of all crashes, and the campaign against distracted driving has gathered such a huge wave of support that it has muted what a powerful lobby like the cell phone industry can do. The Seward Square proposal was seen as an effort by the industry to retrench and fight back.

But the proposal, which was leaked and published online, quickly drew the wrath of LaHood, who went on the offensive calling the effort "dangerous" and said it would undermine public safety. Many of the Seward Square's industry partners, fearing LaHood and a public backlash, distanced themselves from the proposal, which Seward Square quickly withdrew. A spokesperson said the proposal served its purpose and brought the concerns of the cell phone industry to the forefront of the ongoing discussion surrounding distracted driving.

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