Tuesday, May 19, 2015 | Washington, D.C.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Dr. [Jack] Sava [Chief of Trauma, MedStar Washington Hospital Center] and thank you to everyone at MedStar Washington Hospital Center for hosting us today.
Good morning. Welcome to the national kickoff of NHTSA’s Click It or Ticket Mobilization.
I’m also pleased to be joined by:
- Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Vice Chairman John Saunders;
- Captain Tom Didone of the Montgomery County Police Department;
- Tad and Jona Johnson, who will share their daughter Alexa’s story, and are joined by their son, Isaac; and,
- Our friends from law enforcement behind us representing police agencies from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
Every day, Americans arrive at hospital emergency rooms because they were in a vehicle crash and were not wearing a seat belt.
In 2013, there were an estimated 100,000 unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants injured in traffic crashes.
That same year, 9,580 Americans that were not buckled up lost their lives in crashes. While seat belt use reached an all-time high of 87 percent in 2013, far too many people still have not gotten the message that safe driving begins with putting on a seat belt.
That’s why we are here today to launch this year’s Click It or Ticket mobilization. From May 18 through May 31, state and local law enforcement will be out in force handing out tickets for failing to buckle up. This is done for one simple reason: seat belts save lives. From 2009 to 2013, seat belts saved an estimated 62,468 lives. Wearing your seat belt on every ride is the best way to arrive safely.
We’ll now hear from John Saunders, who is Vice Chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Thank you, John. And thank you to everyone at GHSA, one of our essential roadway safety partners.
Our next speaker is the Montgomery County Police Department’s foremost authority on matters involving traffic safety. He can also speak from the heart about the toll of motor vehicle crashes. Captain Tom Didone.
[CAPT. DIDONE SPEAKS]
Among those tragically lost in motor vehicle crashes in 2013 was Alexa Johnson of Loveland, Colorado. I want to thank the Johnson family for joining us here today and ask Jona to come forward to share Alexa’s story.
[JONA JOHNSON SPEAKS]
Thank you, Jona, Tad, and Isaac for joining us today.
Spreading this message is particularly important for young people. Among young adults 18 to 34 years old killed in crashes, 61 percent were unrestrained — the highest percentage of all age groups. This is a group we have to reach. All of you are doing a great service to this cause and helping to spread this lifesaving message by being here today.
Before we take your questions, I’d like to take a moment to raise one additional issue. Behind us are men and women of law enforcement who have dedicated their lives to protecting all of us on the road. So, from the son of a SF motorcycle officer, first: thank you for your service. Second, as you know, all 50 states have Move Over laws that require drivers to change lanes away from police, fire, and EMS personnel when they’re working on the roadside. And in all 50 states, too few drivers know and obey these laws. That has to change. We’re asking everyone to help improve public understanding and observance of Move Over laws. Let’s work to better protect the men and women who do so much to protect all of us.
I also want to make sure we properly thank the police agencies represented by the officers standing behind us today. They are:
- D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
- United States Park Police
- Maryland State Police
- Greenbelt Police Department
- Montgomery County Police Department
- Rockville Police Department
- Virginia State Police
- Fairfax County Police Department
- Prince William County Police Department