National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, DC - National Transportation Safety Board Chief of the Office Of Advocacy Kevin Quinlin presented State Safety Leadership Awards to the State of Alaska and four state legislators for adopting a graduated driver licensing law for young drivers and a primary safety belt use law. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker who was originally scheduled to present the awards, was not able to attend due to matters concerning the crash of a Comair flight 5191 regional jet that occurred Sunday morning in Lexington, Kentucky. There will be two ceremonies to honor legislators. The first will take place at 10:30 am in Anchorage on August 28, 2006 at the State Crime Lab, 5500 East Tudor Road, and the other event in Fairbanks at 9:00 am on August 30, 2006 at the Fairbanks Police Department, 911 Cushman Street.
"This is very exciting to celebrate both legislative leadership and adoption of proven measures that will save lives of Alaska's most precious resource, its people," said NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker.
Alaska had one of the nation's weakest licensing laws for young drivers. Although teen drivers make up only 7.24 percent of the driving population in Alaska, they were involved in 15.7 percent of all highway fatalities in 2003. Data from 2004 indicate a slight decrease in teen fatalities that is expected to continue as the law affects more young drivers. Alaska's comprehensive graduated driver licensing law includes a 3-stage system so that young drivers can develop skills in a safer environment and "graduate" to the next phase and to full licensure.
Alaska's belt use rate of 76.7% in 2004 was worse than that of 30 other States and consistently below the national average. There was a slight increase in 2005. With the secondary enforcement restrictions now removed from the belt use law, the use rate should increase and fatalities decrease as they have in 24 other States with primary safety belt enforcement.
The following will be honored at the ceremony in Anchorage: Senator Con Bunde; Representative Lesil McGuire; and Representative Bruce Weyhrauch. Senator Ralph Seekins will be honored at the ceremony in Fairbanks
"Preventing highway crashes, fatalities, and injuries is everyone's business. We need to take advantage of these new laws and seek to build a new consensus that highway safety is a public priority, so that reducing traffic crashes receives ongoing attention and resources," said Rosenker.
Graduated driver licensing has been on the Safety Board's Most Wanted list of safety recommendations since 1994; primary safety belt laws have been on the list since 1998.
NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100
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.