STATEMENT BY U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY SLATER UPON WASHINGTON's ADOPTION OF ANTON's LAW
Topics: Rodney E. Slater
March 28, 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Cathy Hickey, (202) 366-9550
This is an important day for the state of Washington, and I commend Washington's legislators for passing this safety bill and Governor Locke for signing it into law. Anton's Law, which requires that older children - those up to 60 pounds and six years of age who have outgrown child safety seats - be buckled up in a belt positioning booster seat in the back seat, will help prevent further deaths and serious injuries.
Children using adult belts can and do suffer serious internal injuries in traffic crashes. They risk slipping out of the adult belts altogether and being ejected from their vehicles, as so tragically happened to 4-year-old Anton Skeen, who was killed in 1996 and for whom the bill is named. Booster seats, correctly used, can help prevent this by making adult-sized seat belts fit older children properly. Booster seats thus help provide an effective restraint system for older children and improve safety, which is President Clinton and Vice President Gore's highest transportation priority.
Washington has become a model for state booster seat legislation, and I urge other states to follow Washington's leadership. As a nation, we are not taking advantage of the additional margin this safety technology offers - booster seat use is still too low throughout the country. For the sake of safety, we Americans should increase booster seat use.
I also urge the safety-minded people of Washington to promptly take up the matter of primary seat belt laws. More lives will be saved if the state of Washington were to pass a primary seat belt law and thus cause more adults to buckle up. Primary seat belt laws, giving law enforcement officers the authority to stop and cite motorists for not using seat belts, can bring about large increases in the number who buckle up and consequently survive traffic crashes. I ask state legislators to include a commitment to a primary seat belt law as soon as possible in their vision for transportation safety in Washington.
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