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U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Commends Minority Law Enforcement Executives For Addressing Ways to Increase Seat Belt Use

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Commends Minority Law Enforcement Executives For Addressing Ways to Increase Seat Belt Use

NHTSA
January 9, 2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 03-01
Tuesday, January 9, 2001
Contact: NHTSA, Faithia Robertson, (202) 366-9550

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater today commended the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) for their quick response to recommendations by a blue ribbon panel and joined them at a national symposium to discuss strategies to increase seat belt use among African Americans.

"I am pleased that law enforcement officials are partnering with us in our effort to achieve greater awareness of traffic safety issues in diverse communities," Secretary Slater said. "Strong support from the law enforcement community will drive increased seat belt use and all Americans will benefit from improved safety, which is President Clinton and Vice President Gore's highest transportation priority."

The national symposium is being sponsored by NOBLE and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NOBLE is the first organization to act formally on recommendations by a blue ribbon panel to increase seat belt use among African Americans.

The recommendations are contained in a report delivered to Secretary Slater Dec. 13. It is entitled Blue Ribbon Panel to Increase Seat Belt Use among African Americans: A Report to the Nation.

The report addresses complex issues such as primary enforcement of seat belt laws and procedures for collecting, compiling and analyzing racial and ethnicity data on traffic stops.

"I am especially pleased that NOBLE has taken on the challenge of addressing the issues in the report," said Dr. Sue Bailey, NHTSA Administrator. "They are demonstrating leadership both in the law enforcement community and the African American community."

Other participants in the symposium included distinguished members from the medical, academic, legal, business, and civil rights activist communities.

The two-day symposium is addressing the following themes:

  • Building trust and bridging the cultural divide between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
  • Standard seat belt laws: a prescription for saving lives.
  • Public health and the lack of restraint use in the African American community.
  • Conducting fair and impartial professional traffic stops.

    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.

    NHTSA's data shows that, although black male teens travel fewer vehicle miles than their white counterparts, they are more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash. Seat belt use among African Americans continues to be below the national average and is currently four percentage points lower, an improvement over the 10-percentage-point gap that existed in 1996.

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