Secretary Slater Announces Another Year of Progress for Highway Safety
Topics: Rodney E. Slater
September 6, 2000
(Rev. 9/7/2000. Adds alcohol-related fatalities)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 6, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Rae Tyson, (202) 366-9550
Child, Alcohol-Related Deaths Are Down; Seat Belt Use Is Up
U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced that alcohol-related traffic fatalities dropped again to a new historical low and represented a smaller percentage of the total traffic fatalities, 38 percent in 1999 compared to 39 percent in 1998. Secretary Slater said that later today President Clinton will send a letter to Congress strongly urging them to adopt .08 blood alcohol content as the law of the land.
Secretary Slater made the announcement with Members of Congress and the transportation industry in a salute to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for 20 years of accomplishment in helping to reduce alcohol-related crashes and fatalities.
"America's highways are safer than ever and I am encouraged by the progress we've made," Secretary Slater said. "These encouraging statistics reflect continuing, steady improvement in highway safety under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, for whom safety is the highest transportation priority."
"Last year, 234 fewer Americans died in alcohol-related crashes," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Sue Bailey. "That is 234 American families who are not grieving, children who are not missing parents, or schools who are not disrupted by tragedy. Nonetheless, alcohol-related fatalities and injuries remain intolerably high."
Secretary Slater also said that seat belt use has reached an all time high of 71 percent nationwide this year, another steady improvement on an upward trend from the 58 percent measured in the first national seat belt use survey completed in 1994.
In announcing results of a new seat belt survey and the 1999 Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) assessment, Secretary Slater also said that President Clinton's goal of reducing fatalities among children five and under by 15 percent, set in 1997, was met in 1999, one year ahead of the President's target date. Fatalities in this group decreased to 555 in 1999 from 652 in 1996.
The 1999 FARS assessment by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that, while population, total registered vehicles, and miles traveled all increased in 1999, the fatality rate remained virtually unchanged from 1998. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.6 in both 1998 and 1999.
Total fatalities in 1999 were 41,611 compared to 41,501 in 1998. The total number of persons injured in crashes increased slightly from an estimated 3.19 million in 1998 to 3.24 million in 1999.
Secretary Slater credited the continuing hard work and support of the public-private partnerships for another year of progress. The USDOT is a partner with the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign, a coalition of government, auto manufacturers, insurance companies, safety organizations, and professional associations who, in turn, work with state and local governments, law enforcement, health professionals, teachers and others to increase seat belt and child safety seat use.
The FARS for 1999 also indicates that:
The new survey results from NHTSA's June 2000 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) also found that:
Other recent seat belt use surveys have recorded dramatic increases in some states with new primary laws or highly visible law enforcement or both. Examples include:
NHTSA collects crash statistics from the 50 states and the District of Columbia to produce the annual FARS assessment. The final report will be available later this year. Additional information is available on the Intranet at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov./
The margin of error on the NOPUS seat belt survey is plus or minus three percentage points.
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