The United States Senate ‘Commerce, Science and Transportation’ committee has approved legislation that would provide grants to states that enact laws prohibiting phone texting and use of  handheld devices while driving.

The legislation (S. 1938) stipulates that 50% of any such grant money that a state receives must be used for education about the dangers of texting/using mobile devices while driving, for traffic signs about the state distracted driving law, and for enforcement of the law.

The bill also directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to establish a national Distracted Driving Education Program, and to conduct research programs to study distracted driving by passenger and commercial vehicle drivers.

Insurance associations said they supported the bill. Ben McKay, of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said, “We applaud the committee’s passage of Sen. Rockefeller’s important legislation to save lives and protect drivers. Insurers are dedicated to working with lawmakers to promote traffic safety.”

It is important to note that an amendment added by the committee would also bar car manufacturers from installing entertainment device screens within view of the driver.

The bill stipulates that the secretary of Transportation prescribe regulations on the use of electronic or wireless devices by operators of commercial motor vehicles and school buses, prohibiting their use in circumstances where it interferes with safe operation of the vehicles.

NU Online News Service, June 10, 4:00 p.m. EDT