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NHTSA Reports On Safety Saving Lives

Posted on November 6, 2008

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is releasing new data that shows that keeping the drinking age laws at 21 prevented an estimated 4,441 drunk driving deaths over the last five years.

NHTSA was responding to a national movement among colleges to turn back the drinking age to 18. After all, the argument goes, we sent 18-year-olds to die in Iraq, why not allow them to drink and take away the stigma of doing something “illegal”?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) headed a symposium on the issue. MADD says that “Turning our back on these laws would be a deadly mistake. Minimum drinking age laws are among the most effective measures ever used to reduce drunken driving deaths among America’s young people.”

NHTSA’s data reports that motorcycle helmet use has risen in recent years and that using those helmets is saving lives – from 1,173 in 2003 to 1,784 in 2007. Remember though that there has been a dramatic increase in motorcycle use over those years. Still more than 7,000 lives are estimated to have been spared because of the use of helmets on motorcycles.

Adding more safety features on the roads has also saved lives.

In 2007, front air bags saved 2,788 passengers ages 13 and older. Child safety seats saved 358 lives of children age 4 and under. Seat belts saved more than 15,000 lives, but unfortunately not everyone wears seat belts.

Nationally, even more lives could have been saved – an estimated 5,000 – if everyone had been belted up. #