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Archive for Monday, May 20, 2002

Speeders, drunken drivers focus of traffic crackdown

May 20, 2002

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— More than 11,000 law enforcement agencies from all 50 states are combining forces before the Memorial Day weekend to go after people who break traffic laws.

The police will conduct child passenger safety, seat belt and drunk driving checkpoints and other special enforcement activities. The campaign was to begin today and last through Memorial Day on May 27, the traditional start of the summer travel season.

The semiannual enforcement campaign is in its sixth year. This year it will focus on getting teen-age drivers to wear seat belts.

According to federal statistics, 4,437 motorists age 16 to 19 died in traffic crashes in 2000. The death rate for teen-agers is twice that of older drivers, and their risk of crashing is four times that of older drivers.

"Our teens and young adults are dying at far higher rates in crashes because they are caught in a lethal intersection of inexperience, risk taking and low seat belt use," Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said.

"We can save lives because these tragedies are predictable, and therefore preventable with proven techniques like high-visibility enforcement mobilizations."

The campaign is supported by more than $10 million in federal funds for advertising that targets teen-agers and young adults. One ad airing on MTV and TNN features a teen-ager touting seat belts while rock music plays in the background.

"We do not want to give out tickets; we want to give people a reason to buckle-up," said Chuck Hurley, executive director of the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, which is sponsoring the campaign. "The certainty of a ticket and costly fines will do just that."

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