New Initiative to deter Drunk Driving and Stupid People who do not use seat belts.

16 September 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 44-99
Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Contact: NHTSA, Kathryn Henry, (202) 366-9550


U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Announces
$42.75 Million in Federal Grants to States
To Deter Drunk Driving, Increase Seat Belt Use

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced incentive grants totaling $42.75 million to states for implementing tough programs to combat drunk driving and increase the use of seat belts and child restraints.

"President Clinton said that we've made enormous progress in reducing drunk driving in America, but that even one child killed because of drunk driving is too many," Secretary Slater said. "These grants are incentives to continue our efforts so that drunk driving will continue to decrease and seat belt use will increase - if you choose to drink, always designate a driver and always wear your seat belt."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 41,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes which cost the nation over $150 billion annually. The agency estimates that 10,750 lives are saved by seat belts each year and another 312 lives are saved by child restraints. The seat belt use rate in the United States is 70 percent, and child safety seat use rate for children under five, more than 87 percent.

Alcohol was involved in 15,935 traffic fatalities or 38.4 percent of 1998 fatalities, down from 16,189 or 38.6 percent in 1997.

"While we've made progress, the work ahead is even harder," said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D. "These funds will support states as they work toward an even safer future."

Grants like these totaling more than $1.2 billion are authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which President Clinton signed into law last year. The act includes more than $500 million in incentive grants to states over five years to increase seat belt use and more than $700 million in incentive grants for states over six years to enact and enforce tough laws to prevent drunk driving.

The Alcohol-Impaired Driving Prevention Program (Section 410) rewards states for meeting strong impaired driving program and performance requirements. Beginning in fiscal 1999, a state may qualify for one or both of two separate basic incentive grants to reduce impaired driving. To qualify for the first basic grant (the "programmatic basic grant"), a state must have five of the following seven programs to meet criteria:

  • an administrative driver's license suspension or revocation (ALR) system;
  • an underage drinking prevention program;
  • a statewide traffic enforcement program;
  • a graduated driver's licensing system;
  • a program to target drivers with high Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC);
  • a program to reduce drinking and driving among young adults (between the ages of 21 and 34); and
  • a BAC testing program.

To qualify for the second basic grant (the "performance basic grant"), a state must have achieved the following results to meet the criteria:

  • the percentage of fatally injured drivers in the state with a BAC of .10 or more has decreased in each of the three most recent calendar years for which statistics are available and
  • that the percentage of fatally injured drivers with a BAC of .10 or more in the state has been lower than the average percentage for all states in each of the same three calendar years.

Any state that qualifies for one or both of the basic grants also can qualify for supplemental incentive grant funds. To qualify, the states must have at least one of the following programs:

  • a video equipment program in police vehicles for detecting drunk drivers;
  • a self-sustaining drunk driving prevention program;
  • a program to reduce driving with a suspended driver's license;
  • a passive alcohol sensor program;
  • an effective DWI tracking system; or
  • other innovative programs to reduce traffic safety problems that result from individuals who drive while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

The occupant protection incentive grants (Section 405) reward states for meeting strong seat belt and child safety seat use laws and program requirements. To qualify for these grants, each state must have at least four of the six following laws or programs to meet criteria:

  • a law requiring safety belt use by all front seat occupants. (In fiscal 2001, the law must extend to every seat in the vehicle);
  • a safety belt law providing for primary enforcement;
  • minimum fines or penalty points for seat belt and child seat use law violations;
  • a statewide special traffic enforcement program for occupant protection that emphasizes publicity;
  • a statewide child passenger protection education program that includes education programs about proper seating positions for children in air bag-equipped motor vehicles and instruction on how to reduce the improper use of child restraint systems;
  • a child passenger protection law that requires minors to be properly secured in a child safety seat or other appropriate restraint system.

A state-by-state table listing the amounts and types of grants awarded follows:

FY 1999 GRANTS
STATE SECTION 405 Occupant Protection Grants SECTION 410 Alcohol Incentive Grants TOTAL
Alabama $191,853 $622,009 $813,862
Alaska $55,223 $55,223
Arizona $559,311 $559,311
California $1,063,824 $7,109,102 $8,172,926
Colorado $162,113 $589,905 $752,018
Connecticut $118,639 $118,639
Delaware $55,223 $179,040 $234,263
District of Columbia $55,223 $189,995 $245,218
Florida $489,393 $3,173,340 $3,662,733
Georgia $281,699 $1,080,937 $1,362,636
Hawaii $55,223 $211,903 $267,126
Idaho $278,011 $278,011
Illinois $457,230 $1,663,787 $2,121,017
Indiana $239,425 $966,216 $1,205,641
Iowa $164,666 $566,531 $731,197
Kentucky $166,802 $166,802
Louisiana $175,138 $175,138
Maine $55,223 $55,223
Maryland $172,478 $559,194 $731,672
Massachusetts $212,574 $212,574
Michigan $375,787 $1,441,971 $1,817,758
Minnesota $227,569 $873,229 $1,100,798
Mississippi $131,421 $131,421
Missouri $245,967 $245,967
Montana $72,457 $72,457
Nebraska $112,986 $388,728 $501,714
Nevada $263,522 $263,522
New Hampshire $179,040 $179,040
New Jersey $270,511 $270,511
New Mexico $89,708 $362,023 $451,731
New York $649,314 $2,491,550 $3,140,864
North Carolina $276,720 $1,061,830 $1,338,550
North Dakota $79,031 $79,031
Ohio $423,190 $1,623,865 $2,047,055
Oklahoma $176,298 $176,298
Oregon $147,328 $536,102 $683,430
Pennsylvania $458,933 $1,578,949 $2,037,882
Rhode Island $55,223 $55,223
South Carolina $562,521 $562,521
Tennessee $818,519 $818,519
Texas $741,620 $741,620
Utah $585,127 $585,127
Vermont $55,223 $211,903 $267,126
Virginia $243,960 $790,949 $1,034,909
Washington $209,004 $843,447 $1,052,451
West Virginia $80,896 $80,896
Wisconsin $887,444 $887,444
Am. Samoa $27,612 $27,612
N. Marianas $27,612 $27,612
Puerto Rico $122,069 $122,069
Virgin Islands $27,612 $27,612
TOTAL $9,500,000 $33,250,000 $42,750,000

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