NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs

NTSB Backs Operation ABC Mobilization

May 20, 2002

Just days away from the Memorial Day weekend start of the summer driving season, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman, Marion C. Blakey strongly encouraged all Americans to buckle up and secure their most precious cargo-children-in safety or booster seats. "Current studies show almost 30% of Americans are playing Russian roulette with their lives by not a wearing seat belt," said Blakey. "This year an estimated 9,200 adults and children will die in traffic crashes for one reason alone - failure to use seat belts or child safety seats."

Blakey's remarks came today at a kick-off for Operation ABC-America Buckles up Children. For one weekend as millions of Americans drive to summer destinations, Operation ABC mobilizes law enforcement agencies nationally. This mobilization's goal promotes highway safety awareness through increased, visible enforcement of child passenger safety and seat belt laws. "Visible enforcement is a well-proven way to protect people," Blakey said. "Years of research show that for many people who don't wear seat belts - especially young people - the risk of receiving a ticket is a more powerful incentive to buckle up than the risk of death or injury."

Safe travel on America's highways is one of the NTSB's highest priorities and the enactment of legislation that provides for primary enforcement of mandatory seatbelt use laws is on the NTSB's Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements. "While we cannot prevent every crash, we know we can save lives and reduce injuries with strong seat belt laws that are well-enforced," said Blakey.

Sixty percent of the nearly 42,000 people that died on America's roadways last year were not buckled up. Only 17 states, and the District of Columbia, have standard enforcement laws. States with standard enforcement laws have a 17% greater seat-belt usage rate than those states that have not passed such laws. Research estimates that if every state upgraded to standard enforcement 2,064 lives would be saved each year, 49,400 injuries would be prevented, and the country would save 3.4 billion dollars annually.

As in previous years, the NTSB is partnering with the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, NHTSA, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, and law enforcement organizations to support the work officers are doing through Operation ABC. Blakey said, "We ask officers to do some of our toughest jobs, but none is tougher than pulling a dead teenager or child out of a crash and having to explain to loved ones that something as simple as a seat belt could have prevented their loss."

NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.