Klobuchar ratchets up attention on perils of distracted driving

In U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s view, the dangers of distracted driving cannot be talked about often enough.

Consider, for example, that one in four crashes in Minnesota can be linked to driver inattention, according to the state Department of Public Safety, which put the death toll from distracted driving at 63 in 2013.

Just as public education efforts helped make the difference in the use of seat belts, Klobuchar said Sunday she is hopeful that legislation she is pursuing with U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., will make it easier for states to tap federal dollars to warn of the risks that come with turning one’s eyes from the road for just a moment.

“No text is worth dying for,” she said.

Klobuchar was joined at an announcement about the legislation by Vijay Dixit, of Eden Prairie, whose daughter Shreya died in 2007 when a girl giving her a ride home from the University of Wisconsin in Madison reached for something in the back seat and crashed into an overpass. On Aug. 2, the Dixits will hold the seventh annual 5K Raksha Walk to raise awareness.

Last year, Minnesota received $1 million for public education efforts. But only Connecticut received funding this year, Klobuchar said. She and Hoeven proposed rewriting the requirements to allow states to phase in enforcement efforts needed to qualify for federal money. They include a ban on texting while driving — in effect in Minnesota since 2008. But the National Highway Administration wants to see other steps, too, including increased fines for repeat violators, Klobuchar said.

Anthony Lonetree

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