Sending Office: Honorable Raja Krishnamoorthi
Help States Reduce Distracted Driving – Cosponsor H.R. 2416, the States Afforded Funding Extensions To Oppose Driving Recklessly In Vehicular Engagements, or the SAFE TO DRIVE Act
Introduced by: Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi, Mike Gallagher,
Endorsed by: Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, State Farm, American Property Casualty Insurance Association, National Safety Council
Distracted driving – driving while also trying to text, call, clean, eat, or any other activity – killed nearly 4,000 people in 2016, with over 400,000 people injured in crashes connected to a distracted driver. While distracted driving has always been an
issue, the prevalence of cell phones has dramatically increased the number of distracted drivers. Distracted driving increases the risk of all types of collision by 83%.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers grants to states to promote campaigns against distracted driving through its National Priority Safety Program. These grants can be used to educate drivers or help enforce distracted driving
laws. However, there are several specific requirements a state must meet in its entirety to qualify for grant funding, many of which states intend to meet but fall short of because of technicalities, such as defining texting as “SMS messaging” rather than
a more thorough definition. In 2018, 30 states applied for these grants, but only four qualified to receive the grants. As a result, most of these funds are not being used for their authorized and intended purpose.
I have introduced the bipartisan States Afforded Funding Extensions To Oppose Driving Recklessly In Vehicular Engagements, or the SAFE TO DRIVE Act, to address this issue. This legislation creates two supplemental grants for states to use for distracted
driving prevention. Importantly, this legislation does not increase spending, but instead allows states to receive a portion of the funds already available but sitting on the sidelines. The two proposed grants will be awarded to states who:
- Add a state law with a specific definition of texting, which would encompass instant messaging, SMS texting, Facebook messaging, or using WhatsApp – essentially any other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication. This would include
browsing the web.
- Add a state law banning all non-navigational viewing while driving. States would still allow for the use of something like Google Maps or Waze, but would not allow streaming from YouTube, watching a video, or FaceTiming.
For each of these grants, up to 25% of the money already allocated to the distracted driving grant program would be available. Additionally, this legislation would require NHTSA to provide states with a detailed analysis of why they failed to obtain a grant
and make that analysis publicly available.
Many states may never enact all the requirements to qualify for the current NHTSA grants, but they should still be able to receive funds to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and enforce common-sense laws. Please join us in supporting
H.R. 2416, the SAFE TO DRIVE Act. To cosponsor, please contact
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