(Eds: Sen. Rockefeller and Manchin today issued the following news release. The research is being conducted by Dr. Motao Zhu, of the School of Public Health & the Injury Control Research Center. Contact Amy Johns, 304.293.1412)
WASHINGTON D.C. – Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Senator Joe Manchin today announced more than $182,000 for West Virginia University to research the impact of laws banning cell phone use while driving.
“Studying the effectiveness of state laws that limit or ban cell phone use while driving is an investment in the safety of our nation’s roads,” said Rockefeller. “Distracted driving hurts the driver, passengers, and everyone on the road, and we must do everything we can to prevent it. I’m very proud West Virginia University has been awarded this grant, which could have a real impact on current and future efforts to reduce injuries and deaths on the road due to distracted driving. Our state has already made strides toward this problem by banning texting and handheld cell phone use while driving, and I’m glad West Virginia University has an opportunity to expand that effort through its findings. I hope the study will return useable results that lead to safer driving across the country.”
“Investing in smart research and technology projects helps our great state and this country move toward creating a better future for our children,” Manchin said. “West Virginia University’s research facilities are truly some of the best in this nation and this grant opportunity allows the university to become a leader in studying vehicle safety. I have no doubt that the research team’s thorough examination on cell phone use while driving can impact future laws that will help us make sure our roads we travel on every day are safe.”
The research team will determine the impact of cell phone laws and their enforcement on calling and texting while driving, and rates of vehicle accidents among drivers under 25. Once the final research is collected, WVU intends to make it available to other researchers, government agencies, and the scientific community.
The funding comes from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which conducts and supports research across the country on various topics of public health and human development.
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Rockefeller has been an advocate for driving safety and efforts to curb distracted driving. He introduced legislation to combat distracted driving in 2009 and has held numerous roundtables and Committee hearings on distracted driving and highway and vehicle safety. He also played an integral role in developing the reauthorization legislation for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contained within the surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which strengthens important state highway safety programs and incorporates the key provisions of his 2009 distracted driving legislation.