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GHSA News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2012


Contact: Barbara Harsha
(202)789-0942, ext. 120
(202)669-9750 (cell)

Distracted Driving Grant Availability Praised

$17.5 Million Dollars Available to States

Statement for Attribution to Barbara Harsha, Executive Director, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—We are delighted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has chosen to use an expedited process to quickly make up to $17.5 million dollars of distracted driving incentive money available to state highway safety offices. This is another example of the federal agency’s commitment to addressing driver distraction.

Of the new money, $5.6 million is available to the thirty-five states that are currently enforcing primary texting while driving bans, meaning that an officer can stop the driver solely for texting while driving. The remainder of the funds are available to states that have much stricter laws including a provision for increased fines for subsequent offenses. At this point, only a few states are likely to qualify for this funding.

States may use fifty percent of the funding for any purpose eligible under the section 402 behavioral highway safety program. The remaining funds must be used: to educate the public about the dangers of texting and using a cell phone while driving; for the purchase of signage to notify the public about the state’s distracted driving law; or for enforcement of the law.

While this is a small grant program, any additional funds to address distracted driving by encouraging the passage and enforcement of a statewide texting ban are most welcome.  We urge state legislators to consider strengthening distracted driving laws. We thank NHTSA for its continued leadership and partnership with the states.

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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq or follow us on Twitter at @GHSAHQ.