U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Urges Motorists to Drive Safely During July 4 Weekend
Topics: Rodney E. Slater
U.S. Department of Transportation
July 2, 1999
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 2, 1999
Contact: Ben Langer
Tel. No: 202-366-5580
U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today urged motorists to drive safely as they travel during the July 4 weekend. He reminded motorists to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers by buckling up, not drinking and driving, and by driving safely through work zones. He reminded boaters to use life jackets while boating on the nation’s waterways.
"The risk of accidents and injury is greater during holidays because of increased travel and recreational activities," Secretary Slater said. "We can avert accidents by paying close attention to safety, which is President Clinton’s highest transportation priority–it is especially important for motorists to buckle up and observe work zone signs, for boaters to wear life jackets and for boat operators and drivers alike to stay sober."
According to U.S. Department of Transportation figures, about half of the 508 traffic fatalities over the July 4, 1997, holiday period were alcohol-related, and Independence Day, compared with other holidays, has the highest rate of alcohol-related fatalities. That year also took the lives of 821 people in recreational boating accidents. About 9 out of 10 drowning victims were not wearing life jackets, and about 27 percent of the drownings were alcohol-related. Traffic crashes in roadway work zones account for about 700 fatalities and 37,000 injuries each year.
"Motor vehicle injury is a preventable epidemic caused by speeding, drunk driving and other risky behavior," NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D., said. He asked motorists to be especially mindful of the three Ps for safety: Prepare for the trip, protect yourself, and prevent crashes.
To prepare, motorists should ensure that their vehicles are fit and help themselves avoid problems by checking fluids, tires, lights, wipers and brakes before long trips. To protect themselves, Dr. Martinez said that all motorists should use their seat belts and place children properly in child safety seats–always in the back seat. To prevent crashes, he said that drivers should avoid risky behavior, such as speeding, aggressive driving, and drinking and driving. He also enjoined drivers to avoid driving while fatigued by stopping every three hours and rotating driving responsibilities on long trips.
Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle said that his agency, in an effort to improve safety in work zones, has joined with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association to create a work zone information clearinghouse. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has set a goal to reduce by 20 percent in 10 years the number of work zone-related traffic fatalities.
"Safety is a promise we should make and carry out together," Wykle said. "Each of us must take personal responsibility for reducing crashes on our highways –caution pays off by saving lives in work zones."
Wykle offered the following tips for survival in work zones:
More information about work zones and making roadway construction zones safer is available by calling the clearing house at 1-888-447-5556 or going to http://wzsafety.tamu.edu on the Internet.
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