July 8, 1986
To the Congress of the United States:
The Highway Safety Act and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, both enacted in 1966, initiated a national effort to reduce traffic deaths and injuries and require annual reports on the administration of the Acts. This is the 18th year that these reports have been prepared for your review.
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.
Although the 44,241 fatalities recorded in 1984 represent a 4 percent increase from the preceding year, the death toll is 13 percent below 1980 when 51,091 Americans lost their lives in traffic accidents. There was also a significant 24 percent decline in drunk driver fatalities between 1980 and 1984, and an increase in the number of Americans who are protecting themselves with safety belts.
In addition, despite large increases in the number of drivers and vehicles, the Federal standards and programs for motor vehicle and highway safety instituted since 1966 have contributed to a significant reduction in the fatality rate per 100 million miles of travel. The fatality rate is a measure of the risk of death that a person is exposed to when travelling. The rate has decreased from 5.5 in the mid-sixties to the present level of 2.58.
I am especially proud that in 1984 we had the safest Christmas holiday season since the late 1940's. The national outrage over drunk driving, combined with tougher State laws, stepped-up enforcement, and private sector interest in the issue, have brought about a change in America's attitude about the use of alcohol and its consequences. I expect to see even more safety improvements in the years ahead.
The White House,
July 8, 1986