U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta joined NASCAR President Mike Helton today in launching a new traffic safety alliance with the racing league aimed at saving the lives of everyday drivers on America¹s roads. Secretary Mineta made the announcement while in Richmond appearing as the Grand Marshal of NASCAR¹s running of the Chevy American Revolution 400.
The new partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation and NASCAR will urge all race fans to buckle up and abide by impaired driving laws, and will enlist the help of NASCAR¹s drivers, revered by fans, to drive the message home, Secretary Mineta said.
³We share a mission automobile safety, and if anyone knows the value of a safety belt, it¹s the men who drive for a living on NASCAR¹s raceways,² he said. ³With this partnership, our message about safety will benefit from the power of NASCAR in communicating with all its fans.²
Secretary Mineta said that adult males under the age of 34 are especially at greater risk of being affected by automobile crashes on highways. More than 6,400 men in that age group are killed in crashes every year, and 72 percent of them are not buckled up.
DOT and NASCAR plan to leverage their combined resources to encourage all race fans to take the same common sense approach to auto safety that NASCAR follows on the track. The partnership is not based on traditional NASCAR paid sponsorship and licensing agreements. Instead, it will leverage in-kind resources of key organizations that already market traffic safety to race fans.
DOT¹s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been teaming with national sports figures and organizations since 1997 to increase safety belt use. They include Bill Elliott, Jeff Burton, Rusty Wallace, Geoff Bodine, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon as well as Ford, General Motors and the Atlanta and Las Vegas Motor Speedways.
Many of NASCAR¹s primary sponsors also actively promote traffic safety, including safety belt use. Among them are Nextel, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors, DuPont, Goodyear, the National Association of Automobile Dealers and U.S. Department of Defense.