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Statement on Signing the Motor Vehicle and School bus Safety Amendments of 1974.

American Government

Statement on Signing the Motor Vehicle and School bus Safety Amendments of 1974.

President Gerald Ford
October 28, 1974

I HAVE signed S. 355, the Motor Vehicle and School bus Safety Amendments of 1974.

This act renews our national commitment to the promotion of highway safety, a goal shared not only by the Congress and my Administration but by every American. Last year, more than 56,000 people lost their lives on America's highways. Although the accident and death rates on our highways are declining, we can never be satisfied with the level of tragic loss and injury on our roads.

By signing S. 355, I believe we will accelerate our commitment to reduce deaths and injuries on the highway. It authorizes $55 million for the current fiscal year and $60 million for fiscal year 1976 to carry out the important mandate contained in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966.

In addition, this act establishes procedures for the remedy and recall of certain defective motor vehicles without any charge to the owner. As for the very important matter of school bus safety, this act requires the Department of Transportation to establish minimum school bus safety standards within 15 months. I think we can do the job faster, and I have asked Secretary of Transportation Claude Brinegar to try to have the standards out before the end of next summer.

Finally, this act also does away with the so-called seat belt interlock systems. This system had the laudable goal of encouraging motorists to wear their safety belts. In practice, however, it has proved to be intensely unpopular with the American motorist. I can fully understand why drivers might object to being forced by the Federal Government, in effect, to buckle up. This constitutes an unacceptable governmental intrusion into the life of the individual.

However, in signing this removal of the interlock system, I am in no way encouraging drivers to desist from using their seat belts. To the contrary, safety restraints save lives and prevent injuries. I give my strongest recommendation that all Americans follow the sound advice which tells us to "buckle up for safety."

To emphasize my concern for highway safety, I want also to remind every American to observe sensible driving speeds and especially not to exceed 55 miles per hour. As we all know, the lowering of the highway speed limit has saved lives and conserved energy. Saving lives, saving fuel, and saving the motorist money in the operation of his vehicle are goals we can all find worthy in the months ahead.

Note: As enacted, S. 355, approved October 27, 1974, is Public Law 93-492 (88 Stat. 1470).

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