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Senate Kicks Distracted Driving Back to the States

Republicans and Democrats bow to industry over public safety.

by on Jun.10, 2010

Too many voters are using cell phones or other electronic tools for politicians to ban their use.

In 2008, almost 6,000 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has approved legislation (S. 1938), to offer “incentive grants” to states that enact laws to combat distracted driving.

The problem is that the bill does nothing to stop the epidemic of distracted driving deaths on U.S. roads. Too many voters are using cell phones and other electronic devices for politicians to ban their use.

The bill sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) imposes no new mandates. It also would be funded through existing programs, reflecting awareness in Washington of growing public disapproval of runaway deficits during an election year, which will see one third of the Senate facing angry voters.

In 2008, almost 6,000 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving, or DD, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NHTSA defines distracted driving as anything “that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, or interrupts your concentration while driving.” DD now accounts for 16% of all traffic fatalities. In addition, 515,000 individuals were injured – 22% of total injuries – in crashes involving distracted driving in 2008.  (more…)