Remarks by Jim Hall, Acting Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
Operation ABC Mobilization

Washington, DC
November 20, 2000
 



Thank you, Chuck, for your kind introduction. It's an honor to be here today to join with law enforcement representatives as we launch this nationwide crackdown on drivers who risk children's lives. I am particularly proud to be working with MADD who have done so much as individuals and as an organization to protect children. I congratulate MADD on their extraordinary 20 years of leadership and for their support of this mobilization.

The research from the Centers for Disease Control that Chuck just talked about is deeply disturbing. Children rely on adults to take care of them. It is reckless and unconscionable that anyone would drive intoxicated, especially with children in the car. It is against the law and it must be stopped.

Former Surgeon General Koop probably said it best when he said that there are few places that children go that adults haven't made dangerous for them. No where is this more apparent than on our highways. We are seeing an increase in fatal traffic crashes in some states. Our highways are becoming even more dangerous. In the decade of the 1990s over 90,000 children - infants to teenagers - were killed in automobile crashes and over 9 million were injured. That translates in to over 180 children dying every week on our Nation's highways. That is unacceptable and is the nation's most important safety issue.

We are always shocked by random acts of violence that take the life of an innocent child. It's time we react with equal concern about the number one killer of our children - motor vehicle crashes.

As adults we determine the level of risk that children face and we know exactly what needs to be done to reduce that risk. As a nation, we should have zero tolerance for adults who risk children's lives by driving drunk or by failing to buckle up children who are riding in their vehicles.

That's why this enforcement Mobilization is so important. It will identify those drivers who put children at risk.

  I want to thank and lend my support to the tens of thousands of law enforcement officers who will be out on the roads this week. We ask these officers to do some of our toughest jobs, but none is tougher than pulling a dead child out of a crashed vehicle. I have been told that every officer or accident investigator who has had to do this can recite every detail of their experience for the rest of their life.

The message today is clear: If you are reckless and endanger children by driving drunk or by driving with the children in your car unbuckled, you will be stopped and enforcement action will be taken against you. It is time to put children first. If we do, we will all be safer.

Thank you.