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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 5, 1999

Ryan Announces $1,007,300 In Grants To Increase Seat Belt Use

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced $1,007,300 in federal incentive grants to increase seat belt use throughout Illinois.

"I feel that seat belts are very important for both public safety and traffic safety," Ryan said. "With this grant, we will be able to not only increase the use of seat belts, but we will help save lives as well."

Illinois is one of 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico that will share $54.6 million in grants to promote seat belt use announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater.

This is the second year that incentive grants have been awarded to Illinois due to increased overall usage rates from the previous year. Illinois' rate is currently at 68 percent for passenger vehicles, up from 67 percent. If you include pick-up trucks, the rate is currently 65.9 percent, up from 64.4 percent. The national seat belt use rate is currently 70 percent, up from 58 percent in 1994.

"In looking at these numbers, you can see that we need to emphasize seat belt use through the state," Ryan said. "I am confident with this grant we will be able to increase seat belt use to that of the national average, if not higher."

The grants are authorized by the Transportation Equity for the 21st Century (TEA 21) which President Clinton signed into law 1998. The act provides for more than $1.3 billion in incentive grants to increase seat belt use and prevent drunk driving - $500 million in incentive grants to states over five years to increase seat belt use and another $700 million in incentive grants over six years for states to enact and enforce tough laws to prevent drunk driving.

The amount of the grant for each state was calculated based upon savings in medical costs to the federal government that result from increased seat belt use rates. The award amounts range from $7,000 to $16 million.

Funds provided as seat belt use incentive grants may be used to support a variety of programs ranging from encouraging seat belt use and special traffic enforcement programs to highway construction activities.


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