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February 14, 2012 3:00 PM, EST

Obama Wants $330 Million to Combat Distracted Driving

President Obama has included $330 million for programs to combat distracted driving in his six-year transportation spending plan, as part of the administration’s proposed 2013 budget.

Distracted driving is an “epidemic,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a news conference about the budget with reporters.

“As the technologies of cell phones, GPS and other handheld devices have advanced, distracted driving has emerged as a pressing safety issue,” DOT said in the budget document.

The money will help increase awareness of the issue and incentivize stakeholders to take action, DOT said.

As it is, 35 states ban texting while driving but only nine states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while 30 ban cell phone use by novice drivers, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibits truck drivers from texting or talking on cell phones while behind the wheel.

The National Transportation Safety Board late last year recommended banning use of most communication devices while driving.