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$1.2 Billion for Safety: Secretary Slater Announces $16.7 Million For California, $53 Million in Grants Nationwide to Boost Seat Belt Use

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

$1.2 Billion for Safety: Secretary Slater Announces $16.7 Million For California, $53 Million in Grants Nationwide to Boost Seat Belt Use

October 26, 1998

NHTSA 71-98
Monday October 26, 1998
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

LOS ANGELES--U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced the award of a $16.7 million incentive grant for California for increasing seat belt use as part of a $1.2 billion effort over six years to improve safety on the nation's highways.

"Safety is President Clinton's highest transportation priority," Secretary Slater said. "Thousands of lives could be saved if all motorists used their seat belts when traveling because they are the most effective protection against injury in a crash. It is common sense to buckle up on every trip."

California's seat belt use rate is 90 percent, the highest in the nation. As a result, seat belt use in California is saving more than 1,500 lives and preventing nearly 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually, according to estimates by the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The grant was authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) which President Clinton signed into law June 9. The act includes up to $500 million in incentive grants to states over five years--$53 million in fiscal 1999-- to increase seat belt use and another $700 million in incentive grants for states over six years to enact and enforce tough laws to prevent drunk driving.

Seat belts save more than 10,000 lives in America each year and motor vehicle crashes cost the nation over $150 billion annually, according to NHTSA.

To increase seat belt use, TEA-21 authorizes up to $500 million in incentive grants over five years to states that meet one of two criteria: either the state seat belt use rate has exceeded the national average seat belt use rate for the previous two years or the state's seat belt use rate exceeds the state's highest previous seat belt use rate since 1996.

"Using seat belts is a winner for everyone," said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D. "Families can travel safely, lives are saved, and our states are rewarded when they do a good job."

Each state's grant amount was calculated based on savings in medical costs to the federal government that resulted from increased seat belt use rates. A total of 38 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will receive incentive grants in fiscal 1999. Fourteen states qualified for these grants under the first criterion, and 24 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico qualified under the second criterion, according to NHTSA, which will award the grants.

Funds provided as seat belt use incentive grants may be used to support a variety of highway safety programs ranging from encouraging seat belt use and special traffic enforcement programs to motorcycle safety education. These grant funds also may be used for highway construction.

Incentive grants to reduce drunk driving are authorized by two different sections of TEA-21 and were announced in September, 1998.

A table follows listing the states in addition to California receiving grants and their grant amounts.

Medical Cost Impact of Safety Belt Use Above the National Average And Increased Safety Belt Use in States Not Above the National Average

State Estimated Federal Budget Savings
Alaska $25,400
Arizona $941,100
Arkansas $205,700
California* $16,682,700
Colorado $472,700
Connecticut $48,400
D.C. $220,700
Georgia $2,113,500
Hawaii* $490,400
Illinois $83,100
Indiana $92,700
Iowa* $781,000
Kansas $199,200
Louisiana $1,088,800
Maine $338,500
Maryland* $707,200
Michigan $290,100
Minnesota $100,500
Mississippi $135,800
Missouri $986,100
Montana* $145,700
Nevada* $187,900
New Hampshire $43,700
New Jersey $603,100
New Mexico* $1,577,500
New York* $3,397,100
North Carolina* $5,606,900
North Dakota $88,400
Ohio $1,237,700
Oklahoma $1,465,000
Oregon* $1,486,400
South Dakota $410,700
Texas* $7,311,200
Utah $141,400
Vermont* $40,500
Virginia* $21,800
Washington* $2,615,600
West Virginia $140,500
Wyoming $17,400
Puerto Rico $131,800
Total $52,673,900

* States that exceeded national average use rate in both 1996 and 1997.

Sources: NHTSA calculations based on crash cost software program, version 1, June 1994, as modified.



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