NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


August 12, 2004

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners issued the following statement on this week's Department of Transportation announcement that traffic fatalities declined in 2003.

Washington, D. C. - As Chairman of the Federal agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents and making recommendations to improve transportation safety, I am pleased to learn that both the highway fatality rate and the total number of people killed on our roadways decreased significantly last year. We know what works, strong laws and high visibility enforcement!

The National Transportation Safety Board has worked closely with the Department of Transportation, as well as our partners at AAA, the Airbag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, The Century Council, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, MADD, and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, to ensure that significant new highway safety laws have been enacted across the country and we will continue to do so.

Far too many people continue to be injured or killed in highway crashes, the leading cause of death for people under age 34. And 56% of those killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing their seat belts.

A reduction in highway deaths is very good news but our work is still not done. We must continue to promote state legislation to enhance the driving skills of teenage drivers and to ensure that children under 12 are buckled up in child safety seats and booster seats in the back of the car. And we must remove drinking drivers from our roads as drunk drivers still account for 40% of highway deaths.

Most importantly, we must enact primary enforcement seat belt laws in the remaining 29 States who have not chosen to adopt the single greatest life-saving measure available. It is critical to raise our seat belt use rate to levels comparable to those in Australia, Canada, and many European nations. America's leadership in highway safety is not yet established but we're going in the right direction.

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.