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West Virginia University Awarded Grant for Distracted Driving Research

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Jan. 18, 2013—U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) recently announced a federal grant of more than $182,000 that will be awarded to West Virginia University for research on the impact of laws banning cell phone use while driving.

The grant funding comes from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, an organization that conducts and supports national research on topics of public health and human development.

Through the grant, West Virginia University’s research team will determine the national impact of cell phone laws, rates of vehicle accidents among drivers under the age of 25, and the enforcement of calling and texting while driving. West Virginia University will make the information available to other researchers, government agencies and scientific communities once the data is collected and analyzed.

“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,” Senator Rockefeller said. “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…this country move toward creating a better future for our children,” Senator Manchin added. “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.”

Rockefeller has been a longtime advocate for driving safety and efforts to curb distracted driving. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Rockefeller has introduced legislation to combat distracted driving, and has conducted several 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)—a bill that strengthens important state highway safety programs and incorporates key provisions of distracted driving legislation.

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