WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that provisions based on her legislation to improve passenger safety and combat distracted driving have passed the Senate Commerce Committee. These provisions are included in the Surface Transportation Investment Act, comprehensive, long-term surface transportation legislation that now heads to the Senate floor.
“When drivers take their eyes off of the road, they endanger themselves, other drivers, and pedestrians,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This legislation will help keep our roads safe and ultimately save lives. Now that it has passed the Commerce Committee, I will work to get it voted on by the full Senate and signed into law.”
Klobuchar successfully included provisions from the Safe to Drive Act in the Surface Transportation Investment Act. This will ensure that more states are able to access critical funding to enforce distracted driving laws by expanding grant eligibility for states that implement laws banning non-navigational mobile device viewing, such as streaming videos or video calls on cell phones while driving. It will also provide funding for educational programs on the dangers of distracted driving.
Additionally, the following amendments filed by Klobuchar passed in the Surface Transportation Investment Act:
- The creation of a Chief Travel and Tourism Officer at the Department of Transportation (DOT).
- A mandate for the Secretary of Transportation to coordinate with the Department of Justice to produce a report on human trafficking violations in commercial vehicles.
- An amendment to the transportation workforce outreach program to expand the program to include veterans.
In 2015, Klobuchar was one of the first Democratic senators to support the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a long-term transportation reauthorization bill that became law in December 2015 and provided over $4 billion in funding for Minnesota over the five years of the bill. The FAST Act provided $36 million in additional highway, bridge, and transit funding for Minnesota in fiscal year 2016, growing to a $107 million increase for fiscal year 2020. Klobuchar had successfully included the provisions in the long-term transportation bill agreement on blocked highway-rail crossings, distracted driving, teen driver safety, and driver privacy.
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