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U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Salutes Sen. Lautenberg For Achievements in Reducing Drunk Driving

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Salutes Sen. Lautenberg For Achievements in Reducing Drunk Driving

U.S. Department of Transportation
September 7, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 7, 2000
Contact: Bill Adams
Tel.: (202) 366-5580
DOT 162-00

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today continued the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) with a tribute to Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, a long-time leader in transportation and champion of policies to reduce drunk driving.

"While Senator Lautenberg may be leaving the Senate, the sound of his voice and the impact of his words will continue to be felt for a long time to come," Secretary Slater said of the senator, who is retiring at the end of the current session. "His strength and compassion will continue to inspire us to move forward. Today, I am honored to join MADD in wishing Senator Lautenberg heartfelt joy and happiness in his retirement -- he will be sorely missed by all of us."

In his salute to Sen. Lautenberg, the Secretary was joined by MADD President Millie I. Webb as well as Sue Bailey, administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Secretary Slater noted that Sen. Lautenberg was an original sponsor, in 1984, of the 21-year-old minimum drinking age law, and over the years has been involved in every significant legislative proposal to make our highways safer. Most recently, he led the Senate effort to establish a national impaired driving standard of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC).

The Secretary added that yesterday, President Clinton wrote to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to urge them to adopt a provision sponsored by Sen. Lautenberg in the DOT’s fiscal 2001 appropriations bill that would set a nationwide .08 BAC.

Yesterday, DOT announced that alcohol-related traffic fatalities dropped to a new historical low -- 234 fewer Americans died last year in alcohol-related crashes than in 1998. However, we must do better, the Secretary said -- nearly 16,000 people still die each year on America’s highways in alcohol-related crashes.

Also yesterday, Secretary Slater announced that seat belt use has reached an all-time high of 71 percent, while the highway fatality rate in 1999 remained virtually unchanged from 1998, with a rate of 1.6 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles for both years. Highway fatalities totaled 41,611 in 1999, compared to 41,501 in 1998.

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