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Office of the White House Press Secretary




Over the Labor Day weekend, 29 American servicemen died in Vietnam. During the same Labor Day weekend, 614 Americans died on our highways in automobile accidents.

Twenty on the battlefield.

Six hundred and fourteen on the highways.

In this century, more than one and a half million of our fellow citizens have died on our streets and highways: nearly three times as many Americans as we have lost in all

our wars.

Every 11 minutes, a citizen is killed on the road.

Every day 9,000 are killed or injured-nine thousand.

Last year, 50,000 were killed.

And the tragic totals have mounted every year.

It makes auto accidents the biggest cause of death and injury among Americans under 35.

And if our accident rate continues, one out of every two
Americans can look forward to being injured by a car.

This is not a new problem. Ten years ago in the Senate I told my colleagues that "the deadly toll of highway accidents demanded action. And that this was a responsibility Congress must face. Now, finally, we are facing it.

What is the answer to this shocking problem?

There are those who tell us better roads are the answer. Or safer cars. Or tougher licenses. Or stricter judges.

We know there is no one answer, no magic solution. But we are determined to examine every answer.

We are going to cut down this senseless loss of lives.

We are going to cut down the pointless injury.

We are going to cut down the heartbreak.

Today, I sign two bills into law:

First, to protect the driver--the Traffic Safety Act will ensure safer, better-protected cars in the event of accident.

Second, to achieve safer driving-the Highway Safety Act will set up a national framework for state safety programs.

The first act we sign into law is the Traffic Safety Act.

It calls for nationwide federal vehicle safety standards to be developed first under the direction of the Secretary of Commerce, and, soon I hope, under the Secretary of Transportation.

Starting with 1968 models, American and foreign,

We are going to assure our citizens that every new cars they buy is as safe as modern knowledge can make it.

We are going to protect drivers against confusing and misleading tire standards.

We are going to establish Federal Research and Testing
Centers to probe the causes of traffic accidents.

For years, we have spent millions of dollars to understand and fight polio and other childhood diseases. Yet until now

we have tolerated a raging epidemic of highway deathwhich has killed more of our youth than all other diseases combined.

Through the Highway Safety Act, we are going to find out more about highway disease-and we aim to cure it.

In this age of space, we are getting plenty of information about how to send men into space and how to bring them home. Yet we don't know for certain whether more auto accidents are caused by faulty brakes, or by soft shoulders, or by drunk drivers or by deer crossing the highway.

Local and state information has been too meager. The Highway Safety Act will create a Federal-State partnership for learning these facts.

We are going to establish a National Driver Register to protect all our citizens against drivers whose licenses have been revoked or suspended.

We are going to support better programs of driver education and licensing and auto inspection.

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We are going to ask every state to participate in safety programs--and to conform to uniform driver and pedestrian safety performance standards.

There is nothing new or radical about all this. Every other form of transportation is covered by Federal safety standards. The food we buy has been under Federal safety standards for years.

The automobile industry has been one of our nation's most dynamic and inventive industries. I hope -- and I believe -that its skill and imagination will be able to build in more safety -- without building on more costs.

For safety is no luxury item, no optional extra: it must be a normal cost of doing business.

But no matter how hard we try, no matter how well we work together, the full impact of these bills can be achieved only if we create a Cabinet level Department of Transportation. So today, I call on the Congress to enact -- this year -- the bill which will give us that department.

We owe a great deal to many people for this historic legislation.

Today I salute them. I would like to single out the distinguished leader Senator Magnuson; The Senate Commerce Committee; Representative Harley Staggers and the House Interstate Commerce Committee. And all the members of Congress who worked so effectively.

Their leadership has given us this program. Now we need the talent to make the program work.

I am happy to announce today that one of the Nation's leading traffic safety experts has already responded to our call for help: Dr. William Haddon, Jr. - a graduate of MIT and the Harvard Medical School; author of more than forty publications on accidents and safety; and a distinguished public administrator. I am nominating Dr. Haddon to be Administrator of the new National Traffic Safety Agency. He and his colleagues will be working with the automobile industry to establish reasonable and realistic safety standards.

I am proud of these bills.

I am proud of the 89th Congress which took my proposals and brought forth these laws.

And I'm proud at this moment to sign these bills - which promise, in the years to come, to cure the highway disease: to end the years of horror and give us years of hope.

Thank you,

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S.3005 - National Traffic and Motor Safety Act of 1966

Sponsored by Senator Magnuson

Summary: The bill directs the Secretary of Commerce


To establish safety standards for motor vehicles and vehicle equipment, issuing initial standards by January 31, 1967, and new and revised standards by January 31, 1968. These will apply to all new vehicles, domestic and foreign, and to equipment, including tires.

States and local subdivisions may not establish or continue standards not identical to the Federal standards, except on vehicles for their own use.

The Secretary is to establish a National Motor Vehicle Safety Advisory committee, with a majority of members from the public and the others from industry; the Secretary is required to consult this committee in prescribing vehicle standards.

There is provision for any individual affected by a Federal standard to challenge within 60 days and get review in a U.S. court of appeals.

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