Advocates Statement on the Release of National Occupant Protection Survey

>CONTACT: Jeremy Gunderson
September 30, 2005 (202) 408-1711 x27

Statement of Judith Lee Stone, President
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates)
On the Release of the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS)

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is pleased with the announcement today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta that the national seat belt use rate has increased from 80 percent in 2004 to 82 percent in 2005. The results are from the annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"A great deal of credit should be given to local law enforcement agencies who have embraced 'Click It or Ticket' campaigns in recent years and made seat belt use a major priority," said Judie Stone, Advocates' President.

"At the same time, we underscore the importance of passing primary enforcement seat belt laws in every state, especially if we want to see use rates reach 90 percent and more."

Currently, only 22 states plus the District of Columbia have primary enforcement seat belt laws, where law officers may ticket a non-belt user when they see a violation of the seat belt law. With secondary enforcement laws, officers may issue a citation only after stopping the vehicle for another traffic infraction. Of the nearly 32,000 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities that occur every year on America's highways, over 55 percent were not using seat belts. Use rates are higher in states with primary enforcement laws.

Advocates worked successfully with the Administration and others in the highway safety field for a strong incentive grant program that will reward states adopting primary enforcement laws in the recently-enacted surface transportation reauthorization bill, Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

"Because these laws have been slow in coming," Stone said, "Advocates is also in strong support of a national law that would have the effect of requiring states to adopt primary enforcement seat belt laws. It is time we join other industrialized nations throughout the world who enjoy much higher use rates than we have in the U.S. We could be saving so many more lives each year."


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is a coalition of consumer, health, safety and insurance companies working together to advance highway and auto safety.

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