Three House Democrats have introduced legislation to encourage states to pass laws that ban cell phone use while driving.

The bill offered by Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelIs Trump a better choice for Jewish voters than Biden? Overnight Defense: Trump says he's leaving Walter Reed, 'feeling really good' after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches House Democrats push forward on probe of Pompeo's political speeches MORE (N.Y.), Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone back far-right activist Laura Loomer in congressional bid MORE (Fla.) and Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Rep. DeSaulnier leaves ICU after 3 weeks to continue treatment for pneumonia Rep. DeSaulnier in critical condition due to pneumonia MORE (Calif.) would provide federal grant funding to states with laws that ban drivers from texting or talking on cell phones while driving. Those funds could be used for public education campaigns, traffic signs to discourage distracted driving and law enforcement costs.

Only 14 states currently ban using handheld cell phones while driving. The lawmakers argued that more needs to be done to discourage Americans from taking their eyes off the road to answer texts, emails or phone calls.


"These days, there are so many personal communication devices that command our attention, every second of every day. As we become more and more accustomed to the immediate feedback they provide, it becomes very easy to fall into the trap of texting at dangerous or otherwise inappropriate times," Engel said in a statement.

"When drivers look down at their phones to send a text or check Facebook, they put themselves and everyone around them in danger," Deutch added. "Congress has a responsibility to prevent more needless tragedies by incentivizing states to enact tougher laws that we know can make our roads safer and ultimately prevent more needless tragedies."

States eligible for the grants must have a law that establishes a minimum penalty for a first violation of its distracted driving ban, and increased penalties for further violations.

The legislation would further require the Department of Transportation to study factors involved in distracted driving, such as individual driver behavior and car technology. It would also direct the Federal Communications Commission to report to Congress on the authority the agency has to help reduce cell phone use while driving.

According to the Department of Transportation, 3,154 people died in car crashes involving distracted drivers in 2013, while another 424,000 people were injured. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that young drivers in their twenties account for 27 percent of distracted drivers in fatal crashes.