November 20, 1987
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 19th 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.
The national outrage against drunk drivers, combined with growing safety belt use and voluntary cooperation we have received from all sectors of American life, have brought about even more improvements in traffic safety.
The fatality rate, a measure of the risk of motor vehicle travel, decreased in 1985 to 2.47 percent, the lowest in more than two decades. This is a reduction of 26 percent over 1980 when the rate was 3.35 percent. In 1985, there were 43,795 fatalities, down from 44,257 fatalities in 1984 and a significant percent decline from the 51,091 deaths that occurred in 1980 before this Administration took office.
The progress we have made is, of course, no consolation to the relatives and friends of those 43,795 people who, despite the safety advances and greater public awareness, lost their lives in 1985. But it is indicative of the positive trend this Administration has established to make our roads safer.
While a decrease in the number of fatalities is encouraging during a time of economic prosperity and lower gas prices, the loss of approximately 120 lives per day on our Nation's highways is still too high. Also, with the increasing motor vehicle travel, we are faced with the threat of an even higher number of traffic fatalities. Therefore, there is a continuing need for effective motor vehicle and highway safety programs.
We will continue to pursue highway and motor vehicle safety programs that are most effective in reducing deaths and injuries. We are convinced that even during these times of fiscal austerity, significant progress in traffic safety can be achieved through the combined efforts of government, industry, and the public.
The White House,
November 20, 1987.