NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


November 14, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Safety Council's Airbag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign will hold a press conference on Monday, November 17, 2003 where NTSB Chairman Ellen G. Engleman will underscore the need for States to adopt the Boards recommendations for primary seat belt laws. The event will also launch the start of the Airbag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign's 14-day Click It Or Ticket Mobilization campaign.

The 10 a.m. press conference, which will be held in the NTSB's Boardroom and Conference Center at 429 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, D.C., will bring attention to the unnecessary deaths and injuries resulting from vehicle occupants not wearing seat belts.

"As a nation, we must aggressively pursue transportation safety and the enactment of laws mandating primary enforcement of seat belts," said NTSB Chairman Ellen G. Engleman. "This legislation is one of the most important life-saving measures that costs nothing, but will save many lives."

In 1995, the Safety Board recommended that states enact legislation providing for primary enforcement of seat belt laws, which makes it legal for law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle solely for a seatbelt violation. In 1996, the Safety Board added primary enforcement to its list of Most Wanted safety improvements. In 1997, the Safety Board again called for states to enact primary enforcement and to provide the political will to enable law enforcement to vigorously enforce this important lifesaving law.

Seat belts are the single greatest defense against death and injury in accidents. Additionally, unbelted drivers are less likely to be able to control their vehicles, and seatbelts prevent occupant ejections. Unrestrained occupants are ejected 22 percent of the time. When totally ejected, 75 percent of these persons are killed.

Today, however, only 20 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws permitting primary seat belt enforcement. Recently, Chairman Engleman sent a letter to the governors and legislative leadership of the 29 states with secondary laws and New Hampshire, which has no seat belt enforcement laws, reminding them of the Safety Board's recommendation and encouraging them to step-up their efforts to enact a primary law in their states. Secondary seat belt enforcement allows law enforcement officers to cite a motorist for a belt-use violation only if the office has already stopped a vehicle for another infraction.

More than 12,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide are expected to participate in the Click It Or Ticket Mobilization, which ends on November 30.

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.