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Secretary Slater Announces Results Of Survey On Speeding and Unsafe Driving, National Program To Prevent Red Light Running

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

Secretary Slater Announces Results Of Survey On Speeding and Unsafe Driving, National Program To Prevent Red Light Running

U.S. Department of Transportation
January 22, 1999

Friday, January 22, 1999
Contacts:NHTSA, Tim Hurd, 202-366-9550
FHWA, Virginia Miller, 202-366-0660
DOT 12-99

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today said that, according to a national survey recently conducted, the majority of motorists consider unsafe driving by others a significant threat to their personal safety. Secretary Slater opened a two-day symposium on preventing aggressive driving convened for transportation specialists and criminal justice experts in Washington, D.C.

Called "Aggressive Driving and the Law: A Symposium," the purpose of the meeting is to address unsafe driving and ways to prevent it.

"This again demonstrates that safety is President Clinton’s highest transportation priority," Secretary Slater said, "Aggressive driving patterns, such as speeding and red light running, are violations of the law, and this symposium will consider how the courts can best enforce them and thus improve safety for all motorists."

Secretary Slater also said that a clear majority of the 6,000 drivers polled in a survey conducted for the department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wanted something done about aggressive driving.

The Clinton Administration has seen the traffic fatality rate drop to 1.6 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled—its lowest point since record-keeping began in 1975. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which President Clinton signed into law on June 9, 1998, includes $1.2 billion for incentive grants over six years to states as part of an effort to improve safety on the nation’s highways.

"The survey findings provide strong support to continue working to reduce aggressive driving," said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D.

According to the survey:

The survey indicated that drivers are less likely to drive unsafely as they get older. During the past year, the youngest drivers (16-20 and 21-24) reported the highest levels of driving through stop signs without slowing (81 and 71 percent respectively); weaving back and forth between lanes (63 and 60 percent respectively); tailgating (44 and 37 percent) respectively; driving through red lights (44 and 33 percent) respectively; and driving when affected by alcohol (13 and 14 percent) respectively.

Dr. Martinez said that the findings show public support for increasing law enforcement, installing automated (photo) enforcement technology, increasing penalties for drivers who violate traffic laws, increasing intervention by passengers, and increasing the public’s awareness of risks as ways of reducing unsafe driving.

The NHTSA survey was conducted by telephone. Sample sizes varied between 6,000 and 1,500 respondents. The margin of error varied between + or -1.3 percent for the full sample of 6,000 respondents to + or -2.5 percent for samples of 1,500.

From 1995-98 the Federal Highway Administration awarded more than $600,000 in mini-grants to 31 communities across the nation to implement and evaluate a public information and education campaign to warn Americans about the dangers of red light running. The results showed:

"Safety is our top priority, and our partnership with local communities on the red light running campaign clearly demonstrates how, together, we can improve safety on our roadways," FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle said.

The second phase of the red light running campaign, begun on April 30, 1998, expanded the program to an additional 200 communities nationwide and is now a partnership with the American Trauma Society and Daimler/Chrysler Corporation.

Additional information about the FHWA’s red light running campaign is available on the Internet at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov (click on Outreach). Copies of the Red Light Running Campaign report will be available by the end of February by writing to the Office of Highway Safety, FHWA HHS-10, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington D.C. 20590 or by faxing (202) 366-2249.

For a copy of the survey, "National Survey of Speeding and Other Unsafe Driving Actions," write to the Office of Research and Traffic Records, NHTSA, NTS-31, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590 or fax a request to (202) 366-7096. It is a three-volume package: Vol.1, Methodology; Vol. II, driver attitudes and behaviors; and Vol. III, countermeasures. The report also will be available on the Internet at: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/enforce/aggressdrivers/index.html

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