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Thursday, October 04, 2007
Congress Gives Big Incentive Grants to Encourage Seat Belt Laws
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that 17 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and four territories will receive more than $109 million dollars to encourage and enforce seat belt use.
"Having a strong seat belt law is crucial to saving lives," Secretary Mary E. Peters said. "Every time you get into a vehicle you should buckle up. It’s that simple."
In 2005, Congress created an incentive grants program to encourage states to enact and enforce seat belt laws in passenger motor vehicles. These grants were received by 16 states that had enacted and enforced a primary belt law before December 31, 2002. Indiana amended its primary belt law this year to include all vehicles and has been awarded over $15 million. In May of this year Kentucky was awarded over $11 million for the primary belt law it recently passed.
"Where these laws are in place, they work," Peters said. "When more people buckle up, fewer lives are lost."
States may use these grant funds awarded under the program for any highway safety purpose, such as behavioral programs or infrastructure. Under this program, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the four territories are eligible to receive grants. These grants are provided to the states by the Department of Transportation under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users in 2005, (SAFETEA-LU) Section 406, Safety Belt Performance Grants.
Peters said, "These grants provide states and territories funding for increasing seat belt use and enforcement, which will ultimately help save lives."
A primary belt law makes it legal for a law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle and issue a citation after observing an unbelted driver or front seat passenger. Secondary enforcement means that a seat belt citation can only be issued after the officer stops the vehicle for another infraction.
Driver education helps ensure the safety of American drivers. The National Safety Commission recommends The Driver Education Handbook for Parents as a valuable teaching tool for parents who are concerned with their teen's driving safety and understand the value of quality instruction.