DRIVE Act would provide more than $30 million in additional highway, bridge, and transit funding for Minnesota in the next fiscal year, with additional increases in future years; it also reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank
Klobuchar successfully included several provisions in the legislation, including those to combat distracted driving, improve rail safety at blocked highway-rail crossings, promote teen driver safety, and protect driver privacy
Washington, DC – Today U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar took to the Senate floor to call for passage of bipartisan long-term transportation legislation. Klobuchar was one of the first 13 Democrats to support the DRIVE Act, which would provide more than $30 million in additional highway, bridge, and transit funding for Minnesota in fiscal year 2016, with additional increases in future years. The legislation will give state and local governments the certainty they need to move forward on critical transportation projects across the country by authorizing federal transportation programs for the next six years and providing three years of guaranteed funding. The legislation also includes a long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Klobuchar successfully included several key safety provisions in the DRIVE Act that will help combat distracted driving, improve rail safety at blocked highway-rail crossings, and promote teen driver safety. The DRIVE Act also includes a bipartisan provision to protect driver privacy that she introduced with Senator John Hoeven (R-ND).
“I came to this issue in a tragic way when a bridge fell down in the middle of a summer day,” Klobuchar said. “When the I-35W bridge collapsed, 13 people died, and dozens of cars were submerged. In 13 months, we rebuilt that bridge, but that’s not where the story ends. After that collapse, we invested—that’s what this bill is about.”
Klobuchar continued: “When we are building our economy based on exports, we have to have a way to get goods to market. The way you do that is with upgraded rail, upgraded highways, and upgraded bridges. This leads us to a 21st century transportation system. This bill is about the long term. It’s about looking at a long-term economy. This is an opportunity that can’t be missed.”
The bill has gained momentum in the Senate and is expected to pass after a procedural vote last night garnered the support of 62 Democrats and Republicans.
Klobuchar successfully included the following provisions in the Senate’s long-term transportation bill:
- Distracted Driving: Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Hoeven to help more states access a federal distracted driving grant program. The program is supposed to award funding to states that are taking steps to curb distracted driving, but last year, because of overly stringent requirements, only one state qualified for the grants. Klobuchar’s provision makes modifications to the requirements that are preventing many states from qualifying and would help ensure that more states are able to access critical funding for enforcement and public education to help keep our roadways safe.
- Blocked Highway-Rail Crossings: Klobuchar’s provision would help improve safety at rail-highway crossings by ensuring that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation provides tools and best practices to states to mitigate the safety risks posed by blocked rail crossings. Currently, local leaders and emergency responders across Minnesota are concerned that blocked rail crossings hold up traffic—sometimes for hours—isolating parts of communities and delaying emergency vehicles.
- Teen Driver Safety: Klobuchar’s provision would promote teen driver safety by making necessary changes to help more states qualify for federal Graduated Driver Licensing incentive grants. The Graduated Driver License programs have proven effective at reducing the crash risk of new drivers by introducing teens to the driving experience gradually, phasing in full driving privileges over time in lower risk settings, and learning to eliminate distractions that cause crashes.
- Driver Privacy: Klobuchar joined Senator Hoeven to introduce legislation that would protect driver privacy by making it clear that the owner of a vehicle is also the owner of any information collected by an Event Data Recorder (EDR). An EDR is an onboard electronic device that has the ability to continuously collect at least 43 pieces of information about a vehicle’s operation, including direction, speed, seatbelt usage, and other data. Klobuchar’s legislation would ensure that the vehicle owner controls the data and that his or her personal privacy is protected.
For broadcast-quality video of Klobuchar’s remarks, click here.