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Directions in Highway Safety, Winter 2009 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Winter 2009 | Vol. 12 | No. 1

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NHTSA Reports: 21 Drinking Age and Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives

A new statistical report by NHTSA illustrates the lifesaving impact of 21 drinking age laws and motorcycle helmet use. Minimum 21 drinking age laws prevented an estimated 4,441 drunken driving deaths in the last five years alone according to the report released on November 6. GHSA strongly supports the 21 drinking age and will push back against any effort to repeal it.

Former NHTSA Acting Administrator David Kelly presented the report at a MADD symposium on the topic of underage drinking. According to Kelly, "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 Factsheet Cover

The same report also notes that the number of lives saved by motorcycle helmets has risen sharply in recent years, parallelling an increase in motorcycle use. Estimates indicate that lives saved by helmets rose from 1,173 in 2003 to 1,784 in 2007. For the five-year period ending last year, more than 7,502 lives were spared because motorcyclists used helmets. GHSA continues to support helmet laws and will urge Congress to allow states to spend federal highway safety funds on helmet promotion in the next highway reauthorization.

The NHTSA report is available at: GHSA's positions on the 21 drinking age law and motorcycle helmets can be found in the issues section of the GHSA website.