Advocates opposes Allen's seatbelt amendment

May 16, 2005

Dear Senator:

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), a coalition of consumer, health, safety, medical and insurance organizations, strongly supports provisions in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reauthorization bill adopted by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee last month that would provide incentive grants to states that enact a primary enforcement seat belt law.

We strongly oppose any amendment to H.R.3, the surface transportation reauthorization bill, offered by Senator Allen (R-VA) and Senator Ensign (R-NV), to strike or weaken these provisions.

Currently, 29 states still need to adopt a primary enforcement seat belt law. Use rates in states with these effective laws are higher than in states with secondary enforcement provisions, resulting in many more lives saved and injuries avoided. Only one state adopted primary enforcement in 2004, and none have done so in 2005.

The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's language provides significant funding to states to encourage enactment of primary enforcement laws, will encourage more states to act, and will lead to fewer deaths and injuries on our nation's roads and highways. In addition to focusing on the need for better laws and setting a higher bar for national seat belt use of 90%, the Committee provisions provide generous incentive grant funding for states that already have primary enforcement seat belt laws.

The Allen/Ensign amendment places no emphasis on the need for adoption of primary enforcement seat belt laws, which are necessary if the nation's seat belt use rates are to rise to 90% or above, the level enjoyed by most other industrialized nations throughout the world.

Please oppose the Allen/Ensign amendment and support the important seat belt incentive provisions already adopted by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Judith Lee Stone
President
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

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