Public Papers - 1991 - February
Message to the Congress Transmitting Reports on Highway and Motor Vehicle Safety
To the Congress of the United States:
It is my privilege to provide you with the annual reports on activities under the Highway Safety Act (23 U.S.C. 401 Note) and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1408), both enacted in 1966. These reports provide an overview of our activities during calendar year 1989 and an overview of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's priority plan for the next 3 years. The plan will be an evolving guideline for the agency's safety activities to improve motor vehicle and traffic safety over the next several years.
The plan includes motor vehicle rulemaking on the crashworthiness of passenger cars, light trucks, and vans; vehicle rollover stability; and safety improvements in heavy trucks, school buses, and child safety seats.
It also calls for initiatives to promote State laws and programs to increase safety belt use, motorcycle helmet use, and to discourage drunk and drugged driving.
The report on motor vehicle safety includes the annual reporting requirement in Title I of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972 (bumper standards).
In the Highway Safety Acts of 1973, 1976, and 1978, the Congress expressed its special interest in certain aspects of traffic safety that are addressed in the volume on highway safety.
I am pleased to inform you that 1989 was a year of significant gains in traffic safety. The traffic fatality rate, the accepted measure of risk on the road, was 2.2 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the lowest in history and down 33 percent since 1980. Safety belt use is also higher than ever, with 46 percent of Americans buckling up, and drunk driving fatalities have declined significantly.
There is good news for Americans in virtually every critical part of the highway safety picture. The decline in the fatality rate is especially encouraging and means that we are able to drive with less risk, and the dramatic increase in safety belt use and public concern about drunk driving have translated into thousands of lives saved and injuries avoided.
The progress we have made is, of course, no consolation to the relatives and friends of the 45,500 people who, despite the safety advances and greater public awareness, lost their lives in traffic accidents in 1989.
As we continue to pursue highway and motor vehicle safety programs that are most effective in reducing deaths and injuries, we are convinced that significant progress in traffic safety can be achieved through the combined efforts of government, industry, and the public.
The White House,
February 19, 1991.