Thank you, Madam President. I'm introducing this bill with Senator Hoeven who has been a true leader on this issue way back to his time as governor when he worked to pass a similar law in North Dakota. As Senator Hoeven just described, the Driver Privacy Act will strengthen safety and protect consumer privacy. And I think the bipartisan support that Senator Hoeven has gathered for this bill with seven Republicans, seven Democrats, and people all over the country from Hawaii to Georgia to Oregon to Alaska, not to mention the two of us from the middle of the country, demonstrates the strong support and the concerns that people have about emerging technology and we want this technology but I figure our laws have to be as sophisticated as the technology that we have out there. And right now our laws are lagging, and this information is not protected and there's really no road map on how it should be protected, and that's why we're introducing this bill.

Madam President, I've long supported improving safety on the roadways. Too many people die on our highways and we need to do something about it. In 2010 there were more than 30,000 fatal crashes and more than 1.5 million crashes that resulted in injuries. This is unacceptable. Rural road safety is a critical issue for my state as well as it is for Senator Hoeven's state. Only 23% of the country's population live in rural areas, and yet 57% of all traffic fatalities occur in rural America.

As a member of the Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee, I've worked to advance efforts to improve safety for all drivers, especially on rural roads and we've made some progress. The Transportation Bill, Map-21 ensured strong funding for safety improvements at highway grade crossings and the allocation of federal funding was approved to put resources into roadways that need attention the most. My amendment in Map-21 with Senator Sessions required the Federal Highway Administration to work with state and local transportation officials to collect the best practices from around the country that are also cost-effective ways to increase safety on high risk rural roads. The report was just released and I'm looking for opportunities for how we can best address some of the challenges addressed in the study but it's clear we have more work to do.

Vehicle technologies that assist drivers and prevent crashes from grown tremendously in recent years, from new sensors that identify unsafe conditions to driverless cars, these emerging technologies could dramatically increase safety for drivers and passengers. Even data recorders, the subject of our discussion today, hold similar promise in improving safety on our roadways. An EDR records data on a loop it receives from vehicle sensors and safety systems. The data is constantly being replaced and it only records five seconds of technical safety information when a crash occurs. Although I'm sure that could change when the technology changes. EDR's can be the only resources available to determine the cause of a crash by providing information about what a driver was doing the seconds leading up to a crash, how fast the vehicle was going, whether the brake was activated in the seconds before the crash, if airbags were deployed and whether the driver and passengers were wearing seat belts.

As a former prosecutor, I know how useful this data can be. It can be very useful for investigators to put the pieces back together to more easily determine the cause of a crash for safety reasons, but also then who is the one that caused the crash. The proven benefits to driving safety that EDR's provide are not new. In the summer of 2012 the Senate included in its version of the transportation bill map-21, a requirement that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, initiate a rule making to require passenger vehicles and light duty trucks to include EDR's.

At the same time, there were many legitimate questions regarding the impact expanding EDR's to all passenger vehicles would have on consumer privacy. Who owns the data, who can access the data? It became clear that an effective EDR provision would need to strengthen driver and vehicle safety while protecting consumer privacy and the EDR Provision was removed from the final transportation bill.

Over the past two years NHTSA has continued to worker with automobile manufacturers to ensure the safety benefits of EDR's which could reach the most consumers. The auto manufacturers had already begun expanding the clution of technology in more new vehicles each year. EDR's became so commonplace that 96% of 2013 cars and trucks had the EDR Built in and NHTSA and the industry it regulates, the automakers were able to agree that all new cars and trucks should have an EDR In place in September, 2014. I'm not sure everyone that buys a car is aware of this but by 2014, every single car and truck will have this capability. NHTSA, though, does not have the authority to address the consumer privacy concerns related to EDR's that have remained outstanding for two entire years as we've seen this enormous increase in new cars and trucks containing the EDR's.

That's where Senator Hoeven comes in. Congress does have the authority to clarify ownership of EDR data and that's why we are introducing the driver privacy act along with 12 other senators. Our bill makes crystal clear that the owner of the vehicle is the rightful owner of the data collected by that vehicle's EDR and it may not be retrieved unless a court authorizes retrieval of the data, the vehicle owner or lessee, the information is retrieved to determine the need for emergency medical response following a crash or the information is retrieved for traffic safety research, in which case personally identifiable information is not disclosed. That's where you have it  and we worked hard with the safety groups, and law enforcement, to make sure that this would work for them so you'd need a court authorization or you'd need a consent or a determination that it's needed to determine the cause of a crash, or it's needed for research, and in that case no identifiable data. This was really important for me as a former prosecutor that we made this work for law enforcement and our safety groups.

But most importantly our goal was to make it work for the individual consumers, the citizens of the United States of America because we realized while all this was done for good intentions, no one had taken the broom behind and made sure that the American people were protected. Having just left a Judiciary hearing this afternoon about NSA collection and data collection and privacy and civil liberties, it was very timely that I came over here. While this may not have the huge ramifications of that hearing I thought if people thought ahead a little bit we wouldn't be sitting in that hearing. That's what we're trying to do, think ahead so we keep up with the technology so it doesn't beat us out and doesn't beat our constitutional rights out.

I've seen firsthand, Madam President, the devastating effects automobile crashes can have on families as their forced to say goodbye to loved ones much too early. Oftentimes families want answers, want to know what happened and why. EDR's can provide those answers. Our bill accounts for the needs of law enforcement and these families and you don't have to take my word for it. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has concluded that the Data Privacy Act would not cause any additional burden to law enforcement agencies in accessing the data that they need.

Advancements in technology oftentimes force us to take a look at related laws to ensure that they remain in sync. Senator Hoeven and I are introducing the Driver Privacy Act to do just that. Our bill strikes the balance between strengthening consumer privacy protections while recognizing that EDR Data will be required to aid law enforcement, advance vehicle safety objectives, or to determine the need for emergency medical response following a crash.

I want to thank Senator Hoeven for his leadership. He is a true bipartisan leader. We have worked together on many, many bills and worked together, I always say the red river may technically divide our states, but it actually brings us together, whether it's about flood protection measures or whether it's about important bills like this. So I appreciate the opportunity to work with him on this bill. Madam President, I yield the floor.