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SECRETARY SLATER KICKS OFF BLUE RIBBON PANEL TO INCREASE SEAT BELT USE AMONG AFRICAN AMERICANS

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

SECRETARY SLATER KICKS OFF BLUE RIBBON PANEL TO INCREASE SEAT BELT USE AMONG AFRICAN AMERICANS

NHTSA
June 26, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 26-00
Monday, June 26, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Faithia Robertson, (202) 366-9550

Noting that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for African American children through age 14 and the second leading killer of young black adults ages 15-24, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater and Meharry Medical College today convened a blue ribbon panel to identify strategies to increase seat belt use within the minority community.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), black male teens travel fewer vehicle miles than their white counterparts, however, they are much more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash. Seat belt use among African Americans is four percentage points lower than the national average, an improvement from the10 percentage point gap that existed in 1996.

"We are continuing to build upon the strategies the Clinton-Gore administration used to increase seat belt use among all Americans," Transportation Secretary Slater said. "This panel further underscores the commitment of President Clinton and Vice-President Gore to safety as their highest transportation priority."

The Blue Ribbon Panel to Increase Seat Belt Use Among African Americans includes an array of distinguished members from the medical, academic, legal, business, athletic, law enforcement and activist communities.

"I am delighted that members of the panel are offering their talents to help increase seat belt use in the African American community," said Rosalyn G. Millman, NHTSA's Deputy Administrator. "With some of America's best minds creating improved approaches to educate the public, we can save thousands of lives and prevent countless injuries every year."

The panel will meet on Monday, June 26 in Washington, DC, and is expected to convene three or four times by September 2000. Its report will be completed by mid-October.

Meharry Medical College is a 130-year-old Historically Black College and University with renowned credibility in the African American community. In July, 1999, Meharry released a report entitled "Achieving a Credible Health and Safety Approach to Increasing Seat Belts Among African Americans" which confirmed that seat belt use among African Americans is consistently lower than the national average. The report also observed that 100 percent seat belt use by African Americans could save as many as 1,300 lives per year and prevent 26,000 injuries at a cost savings of nearly $2.6 billion.

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