Statement of NHTSA Administrator David Strickland On Rhode Island Primary Seat Belt Legislation

| Washington, DC

For Immediate Release
Friday, June 24, 2011
Contact: Lynda Tran (202) 366-9550

WASHINGTON, DC – National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland issued the following statement regarding the passage of Rhode Island Senate Bill 0022 Substitute A (S0022A) this past week:

"While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pleased that Rhode Island lawmakers have passed legislation requiring primary safety belt use for the first time ever this past week, we feel strongly that the 'sunset provision' included in the bill runs counter to the intended safety benefits of this important law.

"Across the country, other states that have enacted laws regulating safety belt use have witnessed time and again the cumulative impact such legislation has on both lives saved and injuries avoided in the years following passage — we have no reason to doubt the experience in Rhode Island would follow the same pattern. Nationwide, NHTSA estimates that seat belts save nearly 13,000 lives every single year. By including a sunset provision in its law, Rhode Island risks undermining the overall impact on public safety throughout the state.

"We hope the Legislature will reconsider this sunset provision and provide the Governor a bill to sign that realizes the full safety benefits of this law for the residents of Rhode Island."