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U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Joins in Seventh National Mobilization To Buckle Up Children and Fight Drunk Driving

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Joins in Seventh National Mobilization To Buckle Up Children and Fight Drunk Driving

November 20, 2000

NHTSA 52-00
Monday, November 20, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Tim Hurd, (202) 366-9550

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today joined the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the National Transportation Safety Board in supporting the Operation ABC (America Buckles Up Children) Mobilization to increase child passenger protection and stop drivers under the influence of alcohol.

"For many years, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been fighting drunk driving, and for years the department has placed an emphasis on getting children correctly buckled up," said Secretary Slater. "Now we need to fight these two risks together. With this largest-ever Operation ABC Mobilization, that is exactly what we're going to do."

The mobilization starts Nov. 20 and continues through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. More than 10,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will participate.

Traffic crashes are the leading killer of children, with more than 2,000 children dying each year. Nearly one-fourth of these deaths are alcohol-related. Six out of ten children who die in crashes are completely unrestrained.

"It is deeply disturbing to learn that two-thirds of the children who die in alcohol-related crashes are passengers riding with an impaired driver. As a physician, I find this outrageous," said Dr. Sue Bailey, Administrator of the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). "These deaths are preventable and we will fight to keep drunk drivers off the road."

The Mobilizations have grown from 1,000 law enforcement agencies participating in May of 1997 to more than 10,000 today, Dr. Bailey noted. Since the Mobilizations began, the number of child fatalities from traffic crashes has declined by 17 percent, exceeding a goal the Clinton-Gore administration set to decrease these deaths by 15 percent by the end of the year. Restraint use for infants has risen to 97 percent from 85 percent in 1996, and has climbed to 91 percent for children aged one to four, up from only 60 percent in 1996.

According to estimates from the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Thanksgiving and the days associated with it are some of the most heavily traveled of the year in terms of trips of 100 miles or more away from home. In 1995, the latest year from which statistics are available, the Sunday after Thanksgiving was the most heavily traveled of the year overall. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving was the third busiest air travel day and the twelfth busiest day for travel by car and other types of personal vehicle. Over the five-day Thanksgiving period, Wednesday through Sunday, about 83 percent of long distance trips were by personal vehicle and 15 percent by air. ###


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