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CU Calls on Bush Administration to Support National Seat Belt Bill

For Immediate Release
Monday, February 9, 2003
Sally Greenberg, (202) 462-6262

Consumers Union Calls On Bush Administration
To Support National Seat Belt Bill

(Washington, D.C.) — Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, strongly supports the “National Highway Safety Act,” which would require all states within three years to either enact a primary enforcement seat belt law or achieve a seat belt use rate of 90 percent.
“Primary seat belt laws have proved highly effective in saving lives. The 20 states with primary seat belt laws — laws that allow people to be ticketed solely for not using a seatbelt — have an average belt use that is 10 to 15 percent higher than those with only secondary enforcement seat belt laws,” said Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel for Consumers Union.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a key supporter of the measure, said that if everyone in the nation buckled up, 9,200 lives would be saved and 143,000 serious injuries prevented each year. S. 1993 is co-sponsored by Senator John Warner (R-VA) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). If states do not enact a primary enforcement law or fail to achieve a 90 percent seat belt use rate within three years, the bill calls for a small percentage of certain categories of highway trust money to be withheld.
“We urge the Bush Administration to get strongly behind this important legislation” Greenberg added. “We have yet to hear a strong message of support for this very important bill, despite previous statements from the Secretary of Transportation and head of NHTSA on the importance of primary seat belt laws.”
Last November, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, indicated his strong support of primary seat belt laws. “I urge states to enact primary safety belt use laws because they have been proved effective in convincing people to buckle up. Saving lives is one of the Bush administration’s highest priorities,” Mineta said in a news release.
Added NHTSA Administrator Jeffery W. Runge at the time: “It would be impossible to overstate the lifesaving and dollar saving impact of increases in safety belt use. It remains vitally important that all of our citizens buckle up.”