Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today called for immediate action to pass legislation that includes her provisions to improve teen driver safety after a study showed that more than half of older teens text while driving. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58 percent of high school seniors said they had texted or emailed while driving in the previous month, and 43 percent of high school juniors said the same thing. The bipartisan Surface Transportation legislation passed the Senate with 74 votes in March. It includes Klobuchar’s provisions to help prevent texting while driving and implement graduated license programs. The bill awaits a vote in the House of Representatives.
“Texting while driving and other unsafe practices aren’t just dangerous for teens, they’re dangerous for everyone on the road,” Klobuchar said.“This new study highlights the urgent need to pass this critical legislation that will help prevent texting while driving and encourage safe practices and smart programs for training new drivers.”
The Surface Transportation legislation includes provisions Klobuchar sponsored that would promote peer-to-peer prevention strategies to educate teens about the dangers of everything from drunk driving, speeding, not using seatbelts, and texting while driving. Also included in the larger bill are parts of legislation Klobuchar has championed to assist states to establish a standardized, national Graduated Drivers License program. The provision would gradually phase in driving privileges, reducing risk by helping teens acclimate to the rules of the road over time.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees traffic safety issues, Klobuchar has consistently worked to promote safe practices for drivers and passengers. In the summer of 2010, she convened a teen driver safety summit at Tartan High School in Oakdale, Minnesota, which featured NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. Klobuchar has co-sponsored several bills that would increase the safety of our roads and highways, including a bill to ban texting while driving and legislation to require adequate lighting for agricultural machinery traveling on rural roads. Klobuchar was awarded the Youth Choice Award for Legislative Representative by the National Organization for Youth Safety in 2011.