Public Papers - 1991
Message to the Congress Transmitting the Annual Report of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
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 and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, both enacted in 1966. These reports provide a summary of our activities during calendar year 1990 and 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.
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.
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 1990 was a year of significant gains in traffic safety. The traffic fatality rate, the accepted measure of risk on the road, was 2.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the lowest in history and down 36 percent since 1980. Safety belt use is also higher than ever, with 49 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 expecially encouraging and means that we are able to drive with less risk. 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 44,500 people who, despite the safety advances and greater public awareness, lost their lives in traffic accidents in 1990.
As we continue to pursue highway and motor vehicle safety programs that are most effective in preventing these deaths and injuries, I am convinced that significant progress will be made through the combined efforts of government, industry, and individual motorists.
The White House,
October 31, 1991.