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Transportation Secretary Slater Hails Increased Seat Belt Use

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

Transportation Secretary Slater Hails Increased Seat Belt Use

NHTSA
May 24, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NHTSA 21-99

Monday, May 24, 1999 Contact: Tim Hurd

Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced large increases in child safety seat and seat belt use as he joined law enforcement officers in launching a nationwide campaign stressing the need for everyone, especially children, to buckle up.

"Seat belts and child safety seats save lives and prevent serious, costly injuries-that is why President Clinton called for an increase in seat belt use and a reduction in child occupant fatalities," Secretary Slater said. "By persuading more motorists to buckle up and use child safety seats correctly we can improve safety, the President's highest transportation priority."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child safety seats each year save the lives of more than 300 children under five years old, and seat belts save more than 10,000 lives in America each year.

"These numbers provide strong evidence that our increased enforcement efforts are paying off," said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D. "We are saving lives, but we must continue our fight so that all children are buckled up on every ride."

Secretary Slater made the announcement in Washington, D.C., at the kickoff of the fourth wave of the Operation ABC Mobilization: America Buckles Up Children, which takes place during Buckle Up America Week (May 24-31). Secretary Slater also joined with other government officials, elected leaders, business and community organizations and nearly 6,000 enforcement agencies today as they called for zero tolerance for drivers who don't buckle up children.

According to NHTSA, restraint use among toddlers aged 1-4 increased dramatically from 60.1 percent in 1996 to 87 percent in 1998 and restraint use among infants less than one year old increased from 85.2 percent in 1996 to 93 percent in 1998. This information, which was collected from the 1998 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), also showed that:

  • restraint use among youth ages 5-15 increased from 64.6 percent in 1996 to 68.7 percent in 1998;
  • restraint use among young adults aged 16-24 increased from 49.5 percent in 1996 to 54.7 percent in 1998;
  • restraint use among adults ages 25-69 increased from 62.4 percent in 1996 to 66.8 percent in 1998; and
  • restraint use among seniors aged 69 and over increased from 68.8 percent to 73.9 percent.

    The NOPUS also showed that between May and December 1998, seat belt use rose from 62.2 percent to 69.9 percent nationwide-the highest use rate ever. The results are based on a scientifically based NHTSA survey, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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