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SECRETARY SLATER WELCOMES NEW SAFETY AMBASSADORS AND URGES KIDS TO BUCKLE UP

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

SECRETARY SLATER WELCOMES NEW SAFETY AMBASSADORS AND URGES KIDS TO BUCKLE UP

U.S. Department of Transportation
August 29, 1998

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, August 29, 1998
Contact: Tim Hurd
Telephone: 202-366-9550
Tel. No.: (202)-366-9550
NHTSA 44a-98

FLUSHING, N.Y. – At the Sixth Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day preceding the U.S. Open tennis tournament, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater today welcomed Luke and Murphy Jensen, U.S. Tennis Association doubles players, to the "Network of Champions."

The "Network of Champions" is a national campaign to increase public credibility and participation in support of the Buckle Up America campaign. These new ambassadors for safety will work to encourage young people to take action and buckle up.

"Safety is President Clinton’s top transportation priority and the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day provides a great opportunity to reach thousands of kids and their parents with this important safety message," said Slater. "Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury to children and every child reached could be another child saved."

Secretary Slater joined U.S. Open Tournament Director Jay Snyder; the Jensen brothers; Venus and Serena Williams; "Vince and Larry®," the U.S. Department of Transportation’s famous crash dummies; and other tennis celebrities to kick-off the 1998 U.S. Open.

Educating parents and youth attending today’s event will help meet the goals of the Buckle Up America campaign. Those goals are to increase seat belt use nationally to 85 percent by the year 2000 and to 90 percent by 2005 and to reduce traffic-related fatalities among children by 15 percent in 2000 and 25 percent by 2005.

"The USTA has done an outstanding job in reaching out to our young people," said Dr. Ricardo Martinez of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation. "We are pleased to be working with them to insure that young Americans are educated about injury prevention."

According to NHTSA, if the current national seat belt use rate, which is 69 percent, could be increased to 85 percent, more than 4,100 deaths, along with many thousands of serious injuries, would be prevented each year. If all children under 5 were protected by child safety seats, an estimated 495 lives could be saved annually.

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