Public Papers

Message to the Congress Transmitting the Annual Reports on Highway and Motor Vehicle Safety


To the Congress of the United States:

It is my privilege to provide you with the annual reports on activities under the Highway Safety Act (23 U.S.C. 401 note) and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1408), both enacted in 1966. These reports provide an overview of our activities during calendar year 1988.

The report on motor vehicle safety includes the annual reporting requirement in Title I of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972 (bumper standards).

In the Highway Safety Acts of 1973, 1976, and 1978, the Congress expressed its special interest in certain aspects of traffic safety that are addressed in the volume on highway safety.

Last year was a year of significant gains in traffic safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened 167 safety investigations of motor vehicles and equipment, which is the most since 1973. In addition, the traffic fatality rate, the accepted measure of risk on the road, was 2.4 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the lowest in history and down 27 percent since 1980. Safety belt use is also higher than ever, with 47 percent of Americans buckling up, and drunk driving fatalities have declined significantly.

There is good news for Americans in virtually every critical part of the highway safety picture. The decline in the fatality rate is especially encouraging and means we are able to drive more without being at increased risk, and the dramatic increase in safety belt use and public concern about drunk driving have translated into thousands of lives saved and injuries avoided.

The progress we have made is, of course, no consolation to the relatives and friends of the 46,900 people who, despite the safety advances and greater public awareness, lost their lives in 1988.

We will continue to pursue highway and motor vehicle safety programs that are most effective in reducing deaths and injuries, and are convinced that significant progress in traffic safety can be achieved through the combined efforts of government, industry, and the public.

George Bush

The White House,

October 30, 1989.