National Black Caucus of State Legislators Recognized For Highway Safety Leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Debra Annand
November 30, 2004 202-408-1711 or 443-226-4744

National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) Recognized For Highway Safety Leadership

Washington, D.C., November 30, 2004. Today, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety presented its "Highway Safety Leader" award to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) for its support of the National Highway Safety Act of 2003 (S. 1993) sponsored by U.S. Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). The award was presented by Advocates' vice president, Jackie Gillan, at NBCSL's annual conference in Philadelphia.

S. 1993 urges each state to enact a primary enforcement seat belt law or raise its seat belt use rate to 90 percent. If a state fails to accomplish one or the other within three years, they face the loss of two percent of their federal highway funding, growing to four percent in subsequent years. The U.S. Senate failed to enact S.1993 earlier this year, falling short by only 9 votes.

Primary enforcement of seat belt laws allows police officers to enforce seat belt laws more effectively. Seat belt use is 10 to 15 percent higher in states with primary enforcement. In 2004, Tennessee was the only state to adopt a primary enforcement seat belt law, raising the number of states with such provisions to only 21, plus the District of Columbia.

Upon presenting Advocates' award, Gillan read a congratulatory letter addressed to NBCSL's president, Mary H. Coleman (MS), and the association's transportation committee chair, Steve Jones (AR), from Senators Warner and Clinton. The U.S. Senators extended their deep appreciation and thanked both state officials "for your dedication and hard work on behalf of this lifesaving legislation…..The National Black Caucus of State Legislators was an important and crucial partner in supporting enactment of federal legislation encouraging and rewarding state adoption of primary enforcement seat belt laws…..We will be back in the next Congress with similar legislation and we hope you will stand with us again."

Meharry Medical College research shows that there is a lower incidence of seat belt use among African Americans, and primary enforcement seat belt laws are effective in increasing such belt use rates. Several studies have shown that seat belt use among African Americans is significantly higher in primary enforcement states compared to those with secondary enforcement provisions in their laws. Another Meharry study reports that if all African Americans used seat belts, 26,000 injuries would be prevented annually and 1,300 lives and $2.6 billion in societal costs would be saved each year.

The Warner-Clinton legislation would lead to more rapid adoption of primary enforcement seat belt laws in the remaining 29 states. A similar approach was enacted by Congress in 2000 to encourage states to pass .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) laws, and as of 2004, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have done so.


###


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), an alliance of consumer, health and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America's roads safer, is actively involved at the federal and state levels to reduce the terrible tragedy of crashes to families across the nation.

Share This Page