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Distracted Driving Grant Program

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Distracted Driving Grant Program

Ray LaHood
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
August 24, 2012


[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 165 (Friday, August 24, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 51610-51612]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-20926]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Distracted Driving Grant Program

AGENCY: Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA).

ACTION: Notice of funding availability.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to the recently enacted Moving Ahead for Progress in 
the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the Department of Transportation (DOT) 
announces the availability of funding authorized in the amount of 
$17.525 million in Federal fiscal year (FY) 2013 funds to provide 
grants to States for enacting and enforcing distracted driving laws. 
The FY 2013 funds are subject to an annual obligation limitation that 
may be established in appropriations law. Therefore, the amount 
available for the grants in FY 2013 may be less than the amount 
identified above.
    A State's distracted driving law must meet statutorily-specified 
criteria in order for the State to receive a grant. States that are 
awarded grants also must follow post-award grant requirements. This 
notice describes the statutorily-specified criteria, the application 
requirements and the administrative requirements for the Distracted 
Driving Grant Program.
    The Department is publishing this notice to give States an 
opportunity to submit applications for the newly authorized distracted 
driving grants as soon as possible in FY 2013. Funds for this grant 
program are authorized beginning on October 1, 2012.

DATES: To receive a grant under the Distracted Driving Grant Program, a 
State must submit an application by the deadline established by the 
Secretary. Applications for FY 2013 distracted driving grants must be 
received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on October 9, 2012. Applications 
received after that date will not be considered. Applications will not 
be accepted on a rolling basis after the deadline.

ADDRESSES: Applications must be submitted electronically to the 
following email address: DOT-DDGrants@dot.gov. Only applications 
submitted to that email address will be deemed properly filed. 
Instructions for submitting applications are included in Section IV 
(Application Process).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For legal issues: Ms. Jin Kim, 
Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, Telephone number: 202-366-1834; email: 
Jin.Kim@dot.gov. For program issues: Dr. Maggi Gunnels, Associate 
Administrator, Regional Operations and Program Delivery, National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Telephone number: 202-366-2121; 
email: Maggi.Gunnels@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Background
II. Eligibility
III. Qualification Requirements
IV. Application Process
V. Program Funding and Award
VI. Use of Grant Funds
VII. Administration
VIII. Additional Information

I. Background

    In 2010, there were nearly 33,000 motor-vehicle related deaths on 
our Nation's highways. Driving while distracted is a deadly habit that 
contributes to a significant portion of that total, with 3,000 lives 
lost in crashes where distraction was a factor. The epidemic of 
distracted driving is one of our greatest highway safety challenges.
    On July 6, 2012, the President signed into law the ``Moving Ahead 
for Progress in the 21st Century Act'' (MAP-21), Public Law 112-141, 
which created a new distracted driving grant program. MAP-21 authorizes 
the Secretary of Transportation to provide incentive grants to States 
that enact and enforce laws prohibiting distracted driving. MAP-21 
authorizes funding beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2013. The 
Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(NHTSA) oversees State highway safety programs on behalf of the 
Secretary, including application, review, award and administration of 
grants.
    MAP-21 authorizes $22.525 million in FY 2013 for the Distracted 
Driving Grant Program from the Highway Trust Fund. See 23 U.S.C. 
405(a)(1)(D). Of this amount, up to $5 million may be expended for the 
development and placement of broadcast media to support the enforcement 
of State distracted driving laws. After reserving $5 million for 
broadcast media support, $17.525 million is authorized in FY 2013 to 
provide grants under 23 U.S.C. 405(e) (hereinafter ``Section 405(e)''). 
However, since these FY 2013 grant funds are subject to an annual 
obligation limitation, the amount of available funds for the FY 2013 
grants may be less.

II. Eligibility

    The Distracted Driving Grant Program, as enacted by MAP-21, derives 
its definition of ``State'' from 23 U.S.C. 401. In accordance with 23 
U.S.C. 401, the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, 
American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam 
and the Virgin Islands (``the States'') are eligible to apply for 
distracted driving grants.

III. Qualification Requirements

    A. General. In FY 2013, a State may qualify for a grant under 
Section 405(e) in one of two ways. A State may qualify by having a 
comprehensive primary enforcement distracted driving law (hereinafter 
``Distracted Driving Grant''). See Section III.B. Alternatively, in the 
first year only, a State may qualify by having a primary enforcement 
texting law if the State is ineligible for a Distracted Driving Grant 
(hereinafter ``First-Year Texting-Ban Grant''). See

[[Page 51611]]

Section III.C. The basis for an award under this grant program is a 
State statute that complies with the criteria set out in Section 
405(e). (See Sections B and C and the permitted exceptions and 
definitions below for an outline of the provisions.)
    Permitted exceptions. In accordance with MAP-21, a State statute 
may provide for the following exceptions and still meet the 
qualification requirements for a grant (either as a Distracted Driving 
Grant or a First-Year Texting-Ban Grant)--
     A driver who uses a personal wireless communications 
device to contact emergency services;
     Emergency services personnel who use a personal wireless 
communications device while operating an emergency services vehicle and 
engaged in the performance of their duties as emergency services 
personnel; and
     An individual employed as a commercial motor vehicle 
driver or a school bus driver who uses a personal wireless 
communications device within the scope of such individual's employment 
if such use is permitted under the regulations promulgated pursuant to 
section 31152 of title 49.
    No other exceptions are permitted under MAP-21.
    Definitions. Section 405(e) defines certain terms. The operation of 
the State statute must be consistent with the following definitions:
     ``Driving'' means operating a motor vehicle on a public 
road, including operation while temporarily stationary because of 
traffic, a traffic light or stop sign, or otherwise; and does not 
include operating a motor vehicle when the vehicle has pulled over to 
the side of, or off, an active roadway and has stopped in a location 
where it can safely remain stationary.
     ``Personal wireless communications device'' means a device 
through which personal wireless services (as defined in section 
332(c)(7)(C)(i) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 
332(c)(7)(C)(i))) are transmitted, but does not include a global 
navigation satellite system receiver used for positioning, emergency 
notification, or navigation purposes.
     ``Primary offense'' means an offense for which a law 
enforcement officer may stop a vehicle solely for the purpose of 
issuing a citation in the absence of evidence of another offense.
     ``Public road'' has the meaning given such term in 23 
U.S.C. 402(c).
     ``Texting'' means reading from or manually entering data 
into a personal wireless communications device, including doing so for 
the purpose of SMS texting, emailing, instant messaging, or engaging in 
any other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data 
communication.
    In addition, Section 405(e) requires States to enforce the law in 
order to qualify for a grant. While Section 405(e) does not define the 
term ``enforce,'' we will use the definition that DOT has historically 
used in similar programs (e.g., Public Law 109-59, Section 2005). In 
order to meet the requirement that the State enforce a statute, the law 
must not only be enacted but be in operation, allowing citations to be 
issued. Therefore, a law that has a future effective date or that 
includes a provision limiting enforcement (e.g., by imposing written 
warnings) during a ``grace period'' after the law goes into effect 
would not be deemed in effect or being enforced until the effective 
date is reached or the grace period ends. A State whose law is either 
not in effect or contains a ``grace period'' or ``warning period'' on 
the due date for grant applications (see ``Dates'' section above) will 
not qualify for a FY 2013 grant under this program.
    B. Distracted Driving Grant. In order to qualify for a Distracted 
Driving Grant, a State must have enacted and be enforcing a statute 
that meets all the requirements set out in Section 405(e), as outlined 
below:
    (1) Prohibition on texting while driving. The State statute must--
    (a) Prohibit drivers from texting through a personal wireless 
communications device while driving;
    (b) Make violation of the statute a primary offense; and
    (c) Establish--
    (i) a minimum fine for a first violation of the statute; and
    (ii) increased fines for repeat violations.
    (2) Prohibition on youth cell phone use while driving. The State 
statute must--
    (a) Prohibit a driver who is younger than 18 years of age from 
using a personal wireless communications device while driving;
    (b) Make violation of the statute a primary offense;
    (c) Require distracted driving issues to be tested as part of the 
State's driver's license examination; and
    (d) Establish--
    (i) a minimum fine for a first violation of the statute; and
    (ii) increased fines for repeat violations.
    C. First-Year Texting-Ban Grant. In the first year only of this 
grant program, a State that is ineligible for a Distracted Driving 
Grant (Section III.B) may qualify for a First-Year Texting-Ban Grant if 
the State has enacted a primary enforcement texting law before July 6, 
2012. Specifically, the State statute must--
    (1) Prohibit drivers from texting through a personal wireless 
communications device while driving; and
    (2) Make a violation of the statute a primary offense.

IV. Application Process

    A. Application Contents. The DOT Uniform Administrative 
Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local 
Governments, found at 49 CFR part 18, directs applicants to use 
standard application forms or those prescribed by the granting agency 
with the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980. Accordingly, States interested in 
applying for Section 405(e) grant funds in FY 2013 must submit Standard 
Form (SF) 424, Application for Federal Assistance, signed by the 
Governor's Representative for Highway Safety. Please see 
www07.grants.gov/assets/SF424Instructions.pdf for instructions on how 
to complete the SF 424.
    As a part of an attachment to SF 424, applicants must specify the 
grant for which the applicant is applying (Distracted Driving Grant or 
First-Year Texting-Ban Grant), and identify the State statute (by 
citation), including each provision of the State statute that meets 
each of the qualification requirements for a Section 405(e) grant.
    Applications must be submitted electronically to the following 
Email address: DOT-DDGrants@dot.gov. Only applications submitted to 
that Email address will be deemed properly filed.
    B. Application Deadline. For FY 2013 Distracted Driving Grants or 
First-Year Texting-Ban Grants, grant applications must be received by 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on October 9, 2012. Late applications will not 
be considered.
    C. Application Review. DOT will review each application and State 
statute to verify compliance with all of the provisions of Section 
405(e). DOT reserves the right to seek clarification from any applicant 
about the information in its application, but expects applications to 
be complete upon submission. Applicants will be notified of award by 
letter to the Governor.

V. Program Funding and Award

    As noted above, MAP-21 authorizes $22.525 million in FY 2013 for 
the Distracted Driving Grant Program. See 23 U.S.C. 405(a)(1)(D). In 
the first fiscal year of this program, MAP-21 provides that DOT may 
award up to 25 percent of the amount available for Section

[[Page 51612]]

405(e) grants to those States that have enacted a primary enforcement 
texting-ban law before July 6, 2012, and are otherwise ineligible for a 
grant under this program (i.e., First-Year Texting-Ban Grant). See 23 
U.S.C. 405(e)(6). Therefore, subject to the availability of funds, DOT 
intends to make available approximately $5.6 million for First-Year 
Texting-Ban Grants in FY 2013 (Section III.C). In FY 2013, DOT further 
intends to reserve $5 million of the amount available for Section 
405(e) grants for broadcast media support, as is authorized in MAP-21. 
See 23 U.S.C. 405(e)(7). Accordingly, subject to the availability of 
funds, of the $17.525 million reserved in FY 2013 to provide grants 
under Section 405(e), DOT intends to make available approximately $11.9 
million for Distracted Driving Grants (Section III.B) and approximately 
$5.6 million for First-Year Texting-Ban Grants (Section III.C).
    Section 405(e) does not specify how distracted driving grants are 
to be allocated among the qualifying States. Four of the six grant 
programs authorized in MAP-21 Section 31105 (Occupant Protection, State 
Traffic Safety Information System, Impaired Driving Countermeasures and 
Graduated Driver Licensing Laws) allocate grant funds in proportion to 
the State's apportionment under 23 U.S.C. 402 for FY 2009. DOT will use 
this process to allocate grant funds to States under both parts of this 
grant program (Distracted Driving Grants and First-Year Texting-Ban 
Grants), consistent with past practice in a number of highway safety 
grant programs. In addition, consistent with limitations in some other 
highway safety programs, a cap of 10 percent of the total amount 
authorized for FY 2013 Section 405(e) will apply to each grant award. 
The amount of funds awarded to a State under this program will depend 
on the grant for which a State is applying and the total number of 
States qualifying for each type of grant under the program.

VI. Use of Grant Funds

    A. Eligible uses of grant funds. MAP-21 stipulates that each State 
that receives a Section 405(e) grant must use at least 50 percent of 
the grant funds (1) to educate the public through advertising 
containing information about the dangers of texting or using a cell 
phone while driving; (2) for traffic signs that notify drivers about 
the distracted driving law of the State; or (3) for law enforcement 
costs related to the enforcement of the distracted driving law. See 23 
U.S.C. 405(e)(5)(A). The remaining grant funds, but no more than 50 
percent, may be used for any eligible project or activity under 23 
U.S.C. 402. See 23 U.S.C. 405(e)(5)(B).
    B. Matching requirement. MAP-21 Section 31105 does not specify a 
Federal share for the activities funded by the Distracted Driving Grant 
Program. However, 23 U.S.C. 120 specifies a Federal share of 80 percent 
for any project or activity carried out under Title 23. Because the 
Distracted Driving Grant Program is a program under Title 23, the 
Federal share is 80 percent.

VII. Administration

    The requirements of 49 CFR part 18, the Uniform Administrative 
Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local 
Governments, govern the implementation and management of grants awarded 
under the Distracted Driving Grant Program. For ease of administration, 
States may fulfill financial and reporting requirements through the 
processes (e.g., vouchering, reporting) applied to the other highway 
safety grants in Title 23, Chapter 4. This includes the requirement 
that qualifying States submit a plan explaining, by countermeasure 
area, how awarded grant funds will be used, including those that will 
be used to address distracted driving and those that will be used for 
eligible projects under 23 U.S.C. 402.

VIII. Additional Information

    Beginning with FY 2014 grants, July 1 of the prior year is the 
single application deadline for highway safety program grants and 
national priority program grants. See MAP-21 Sections 31101 and 31102. 
While DOT is publishing this notice to give States an opportunity to 
submit applications for these newly authorized grants in FY 2013, in 
the near future, DOT intends to issue regulations implementing highway 
safety program grants and national priority safety program grants under 
Sections 402 and 405 for FY 2013 and 2014, as applicable. DOT intends 
to award Distracted Driving Grants under Section 405(e) for FY 2014 and 
future years pursuant to the single application process to be set forth 
in those upcoming regulations.

    Authority: Public Law 112-141, Section 31105(e); 23 U.S.C. 
405(e) (as set forth in MAP-21); delegation of authority at 49 CFR 
Sec. Sec.  1.94 and 1.95.

    Issued on: August 17, 2012.
Ray LaHood,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2012-20926 Filed 8-23-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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