Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Bill Introduced in U.S. Legislature

Legislators will be taking up a large bill this session that is relevant to every person in the United States - and it's not health care.

In July, Democratic leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation introduced "Mariah's Law," also known as the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011. The bill seeks to fund safety programs and activities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is the federal agency responsible for auto and traffic safety. The bill takes on many issues involving the safety of motor vehicles, the people driving them and the highways on which they travel.

According to a press release from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the sponsors of the legislation, the bill will include $22 million in incentive programs which will encourage states to adopt graduated licensing laws. These laws would increase driving privileges with experience and age.

The bill was named "Mariah's Law" after Mariah West, a teenager who was killed in a car accident in Arkansas on May 29, 2009. According to reports, Mariah was texting while driving when she lost control of her car. She died just days after she was to graduate from high school.

Contents of Mariah's Law

Texting while driving has become a major problem among teenagers and adults. Part of this bill seeks to introduce safety laws prohibiting texting while driving and other things that cause inattentive driving, including talking on a cell phone.

The bill also includes legislation that addresses issues related to the licensing of teenage drivers, seat belt safety, improved motor vehicle safety standards, child passenger safety and motor vehicle safety defects. The bill also provides for the funding of research into highway safety and technology that could be used inside a vehicle to prevent alcohol-impaired driving.