More than $109 Million Awarded to States for Increased Seat Belt Use

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced yesterday that 17 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and four territories will receive more than $109 million under a federal program to encourage and enforce seat belt use.

"Having a strong seat belt law is crucial to saving lives," Peters said. "Every time you get into a vehicle you should buckle up. It's that simple."

Congress established an incentive grants program in 2005 to encourage states to enact and enforce laws requiring the use of seat belts in passenger motor vehicles. The 16 states receiving these grants had enacted and were enforcing a primary belt law before Dec. 31, 2002. This year Indiana amended its primary belt law to include all vehicles and is receiving over $15 million. In May 2007 Kentucky received more than $11 million for it’s recently passed primary belt law.

A primary belt law allows a law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle and issue a citation when the officer observes an unbelted driver or front seat passenger. Secondary enforcement means that a citation for not wearing a seat belt can only be issued after the officer stops the vehicle for another infraction.

"Where these laws are in place, they work," Peters said. "When more people buckle up, fewer lives are lost."

Under the program states may use these grant funds for any highway safety purpose, either for behavioral programs or for infrastructure. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the four territories are eligible to receive grants under this program. DOT is authorized to provide these grants to the states under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users in 2005, (SAFETEA-LU) Section 406, Safety Belt Performance Grants.

The following states are receiving money awards: Alabama, $3,427,509; California, $19,359,902; Connecticut, $1,994,790; District Of Columbia, $1,006,955; Hawaii, $1,006,955; Indiana, $15,738,565; Iowa, $2,883,916; Louisiana, $3,026,798; Maryland, $3,079,145; Michigan, $6,566,038; New Jersey, $4,738,896; New Mexico, $1,662,411; New York, $11,071,887; North Carolina, $5,348,910; Oklahoma, $3,142,500; Oregon, $2,565,005; Puerto Rico, $2,127,249; Texas, $14,330,547; Washington, $4,001,383; American Samoa, $503,477; Guam, $503,477; N. Marianas, $503,477; Virgin Islands, $503,477.

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