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Slater Commends California on 90 Percent Seat Belt Use

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

Slater Commends California on 90 Percent Seat Belt Use

U.S. Department of Transportation
June 24, 1998

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 24, 1998
Contact: Bill Adams
Tel.: (202) 366-5580
DOT 118-98

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater, today commended the people of California for becoming the first state in the nation to achieve a 90 percent seat belt use rate.

"President Clinton has set the goal of 90 percent seat belt use nationwide by the year 2005 because seat belts are the most effective means of reducing fatalities and serious injuries," said Secretary Slater. "Through this remarkable achievement, California will reap enormous benefits in health and safety for its citizens."

Slater stated that if all states maintained an 85 percent seat belt use rate, annually, more than 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries would be prevented. Currently, the national buckle-up rate is 69 percent.

Under President Clinton’s Initiative to Increase Seat Belt Use, announced in his December 1996 radio address, the President asked all Americans to wear seat belts as a first line of defense against injuries and fatalities and always to keep children aged 12 and under buckled in the back seat where they are safest. He directed the Secretary of Transportation to develop a plan to increase the use of seat belts nationwide.

The plan, developed by the department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has four elements:

  • Build public-private partnerships to help America reach its potential of saving lives and preventing injuries through the use of seat belts and child safety seats;
  • Expand well-coordinated effective public education programs;
  • Ask the states to enact strong legislation for standard seat belt laws and strengthened child passenger safety laws; and
  • Embrace active, high visibility law enforcement of seat belts.

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