Nicole Nason, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, D.C.
As administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), I want to express my deep personal appreciation for the tireless efforts you devoted to traffic safety this summer, particularly during the safety belt mobilization in May and the drunk driving crackdown in August and September. As the daughter of a police chief, I am keenly aware of the challenges faced by law enforcement every day. I am also aware of the risks that officers are exposed to during every traffic stop.
|Nicole Nason, Administrator|
NHTSA, Washington, D.C.
Across the United States every year more than 42,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes. More than 16,000 of those who die are unbuckled, and more than 13,000 die in crashes that involve an impaired driver or rider with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, at or above .08, which is unlawful in every state.
The research is clear. One of the most effective strategies for increasing safety belt use and reducing impaired driving is highly visible law enforcement. Obviously, we depend on you to play the key role in this solution, but we intend to do all we can to help. With support from Congress, NHTSA has developed two strong media campaigns known by their taglines: “Click it or ticket” and “Drunk driving . . . over the limit . . . under arrest.” Both campaigns use law enforcement to create general deterrence—that is, not only to arrest offenders but also to convince all community members that they will be caught if they disobey the law. But the credibility and effectiveness of these campaigns is dependent on actual enforcement on the ground.
That is why I am so grateful for the show of law enforcement support and participation we witnessed this year. More than 10,000 law enforcement agencies made the commitment to participate in both the safety belt mobilization in May and impaired driving crackdown in August and September. We relied on you this summer and you came through for us. But as you well know, the job isn’t done yet, and we will be looking for your participation again in the upcoming impaired driving crackdown during the December holiday period.
Through our combined efforts to date, safety belt use rates are at an all-time high and alcohol-related fatalities have declined, if only modestly, for the past three years. We have made progress, but working together we have the opportunity to save hundreds or even thousands of additional lives by reducing impaired driving and increasing safety belt use. The role that law enforcement plays in these efforts cannot be overstated, and your continued leadership and commitment to highway safety is appreciated—not only by me but also by countless families across the nation.
From The Police Chief, vol. 73, no. 11, November 2006. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.