States receive millions in incentives

News U.S. DOT September 30, 2003
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta announced incentive grants totaling $57 million to states for tough programs to combat alcohol-impaired driving and to increase the use of safety belts and child restraints.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show that safety belts and child restraints save lives. NHTSA estimates that more than 14,000 lives are saved by safety belts each year and another 300 lives per year are saved by child restraints. The safety belt use rate in the U.S. is 79%, up from 75% in June 2002. The child safety seat use rate for infants is 99%, the rate for 1-3 years old is 94% and the rate for children 4-7 is 83%.

"It is simply unacceptable that nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic crashes on our roads last year," said Mineta. "One of the Bush administration's top transportation priorities is safety. The President underscored this commitment in the Administration's surface transportation reauthorization bill by proposing double the funding for safety over the previous legislation."

The incentive grants were authorized by TEA-21, which included more than $500 million in grants to states over five years to increase safety belt use and more than $700 million in incentive grants for states over six years to enact and enforce tough laws to prevent alcohol-impaired driving.

This is the sixth year for grant awards under the TEA-21 "Section 410" alcohol-impaired driving prevention program. The 36 states that have complied with the requirements of the program will share FY 2003 grants totaling $31.3 million. A state becomes eligible for an incentive grant by meeting Congressionally specified criteria leading to tougher enforcement of drunk driving laws or evidence of the state's effectiveness in cracking down on drunk driving.

This is the fifth year for "Section 405" occupant protection program grant awards under TEA-21. The 35 jurisdictions that have complied with the requirements of the program will share FY 2003 grants totaling $25.7 million.

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