The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a new grant program for the 2013 fiscal year, which will provide approximately US$17.5 million to states that have laws banning distracted driving. The NHTSA estimates that at least 3,092 people were killed and an additional 416,000 others were injured in distraction-affected crashes in 2010, including crashes involving texting or other cell phone use. To qualify for the new funding, which was authorized by Congress under the ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’ (MAP-21), a state must have a comprehensive, primary law against distracted driving or a primary law prohibiting texting while driving that allows law enforcement personnel to stop violators solely for distracted driving. States with secondary laws, which require law enforcement to observe a primary offense prior to enforcing the distraction law; will not be eligible.
Under MAP-21, Congress has also authorized an additional US$5 million for the NHTSA to develop paid advertising, in order to support state enforcement of laws against distracted driving. The announcement coincides with the release of new distracted driving public service announcements (PSAs), which are aimed at young adults and feature scenes from the popular television series, ‘Glee’. The new PSAs, which are being released through NHTSA, the Ad Council, Fox Home Entertainment, and the State Attorneys General and Consumer Protection Agencies, are part of the national ‘Stop the Texts - Stop the Wrecks.’ campaign.
Announcing the new funding, US Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, said, “Distracted driving is a persistent and growing epidemic on America’s roads; but there has also been incredible momentum in the states in recent years to pass laws that tackle the problem head on. This new grant program will provide states that have distracted driving laws with important resources to help save lives and prevent injuries.” The NHTSA Administrator, David Strickland, commented, “Whether the issue is distracted driving, drunk driving, seat belt use, or another safety concern, we count on our law enforcement partners in the states to help reduce the tragic toll of traffic deaths and injuries on our roadways. These funds will allow us to build on the success we’ve seen in past campaigns that combined tough laws, strong enforcement, and ongoing public awareness efforts.”
23 August 2012
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