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New legislation aims to make U.S. roads safer

Posted On Sat, July 30, 2011

The Democratic leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation have introduced new legislation to improve the safety of vehicles, advance safety laws across the country and improve consumer information. The Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011 (MVHSIA) is also known as Mariah's Law, named after an Arkansas teen who died in a car crash resulting from texting.

The new legislation addresses issues including licensing to teen drivers, improving motor vehicle safety standards, child passenger safety and distracted and impaired driving. If the bill is effective, car insurance rates for teens may eventually begin to decline. Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, spoke in support of the bill.

"Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all Americans ages five to 34. And the annual highway death toll costs our nation over $230 billion a year," Gillan said. "Too many people are needlessly dying because states have been slow to enact laws to protect teen drivers, keep drunk drivers off our roads and ban the dangerous and deadly practice of texting while driving."

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was involved in 20 percent of all injury crashes in 2009. In the same year, 5,474 people died and nearly 500,000 more were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving.

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