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BTS Survey Finds That Most Americans Support Enforcement of Seat Belt Laws

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

BTS Survey Finds That Most Americans Support Enforcement of Seat Belt Laws

USDOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics
January 3, 2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 3, 2001
Contact: David Smallen
Tel.: (202)-366-5568
BTS 1-01

Most Americans support police enforcement of seat belt laws, according to a Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) survey released today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater.

"Safety is President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s highest transportation priority, and the best defense against injury in a car crash is buckling up," Secretary Slater said. "Enforcement is getting America’s attention with seat belt use at an all-time high and traffic deaths at an all- time low."

The survey by BTS, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), reported that 90 percent of the people questioned agreed or strongly agreed that it is important for police to enforce the seat belt laws. The random survey of 1,000 households has a margin of error of two percentage points.

The BTS Omnibus Survey collects information monthly from randomly selected households about the transportation system, how it is used, and how it is viewed. It is intended to determine the general public’s satisfaction with the nation’s transportation system and to help set priorities for improvements. Results from the latest survey as well as earlier surveys are available on the BTS website at www.bts.gov.

According to DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 percent, yet nearly one-third of all Americans still do not buckle up.

In October, Secretary Slater announced that 36 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will share $47.3 million in incentive grants for increasing seat belt use. Fiscal Year 2001 is the third year that incentive grants have been awarded for increasing seat belt use rates.

Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now have seat belt use laws, and just over one-third provide for standard enforcement procedures. Standard enforcement allows a police officer to stop a vehicle and issue a citation when the officer observes an unbelted driver or passenger.

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