Klobuchar: Distracted driving demands actionSpeaking at the second annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar Tuesday highlighted the need to stop drivers from texting while driving.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
Washington, D.C. – Speaking at the second annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar Tuesday highlighted the need to stop drivers from texting while driving and discussed legislation that aims to reduce driving-related crashes and fatalities. The summit was hosted by Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and included National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland, national transportation officials, safety advocates, and representatives from the law enforcement community.
“Too many drivers are texting behind the wheel,” Klobuchar said. “The consequences of distracted driving are devastating and demand greater action by us all – no text message is worth dying for. As a former prosecutor, I know how important it is to keep our roads safe, and I will continue to work to enact laws that address distracted driving.”
“Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic in America because too many people think they can drive and text or talk on a cell phone,” Secretary LaHood said. “I am grateful to Senator Klobuchar for all of her efforts to tackle this critical public safety problem. Working together, we can save lives and reduce injuries.”
Klobuchar is a cosponsor of the “Distracted Driving Prevention Act.” The legislation, which passed the Senate Commerce Committee in June, would encourage more states to ban texting while driving. Klobuchar also supports the “ALERT Drivers Act,” which would withhold a portion of a state’s federal highway funds if the state has not enacted a texting ban.
Klobuchar also joined Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to introduce the “Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act,” which would create a graduated, three-stage licensing process that goes from learner’s permit to intermediate stage to full, non-restricted drivers licensing. At the learners permit and intermediate stages, the legislation would prohibit all use of cell phones and communication devices, except in the case of an emergency. In July, Klobuchar introduced the Students Taking Action for Road Safety Act, which encourages peer-to-peer training to educate teens about the dangers of drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.
In 2009, 4,898 crashes were linked to distracted driving, which resulted in 5,474 deaths and 448,000 injuries. Of these crashes, 16 percent involved teens and young people, the highest of any age group.
At the summit, Klobuchar shared the story of St. Paul resident, Laurie Hevier, whose mother, Julie Davis, was killed in a car crash involving a 19-year-old distracted driver in April 2009. According to police reports, the driver of the vehicle who hit Davis may not have been looking at the road for up to nine seconds while driving 70 miles per hour.
In June, Klobuchar hosted a Teen Driving Safety Summit at Tartan High School in Oakdale, which brought together high school students, parents, law enforcement officials, and driving safety advocates to raise awareness of issues including distracted driving.
Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, both of which have jurisdiction over driver safety legislation.