Plan to Reduce Traffic Deaths

The Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta, is promoting a plan to cut dramatically the rate of traffic deaths over the next several years. The plan focuses on three main areas:

  1. Seat Belts. Increasing the use of seatbelts from the current 79% up to 90% might save an estimated 3,200 lives per year.
  2. Truckers. Limiting the number of hours truckers can spend driving without rest could reduce driving impaired by lack of sleep, a major cause of traffic fatalities, according to the Transportation Secretary.
  3. Hard-Core Drunk Drivers. About one-third of all alcohol-related traffic deaths involve “hard-core” drunken drivers -- repeat drunken drivers or drivers with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels at least twice the legal limit. The plan calls for courts to impose jail sentences or mandate treatment for hard-core drunken drivers. The Department of Transportation estimates that doing so would save up to 7,000 lives each year.

In the past 20 years the number of alcohol-related deaths has dropped by one-third, but the number of traffic deaths not associated with alcohol has jumped 43%. If successful, the plan would cause an even greater drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities and stem the increase in deaths not involving alcohol consumption.


  • Howlett, Debbie. “Ambitious goal” set on reducing road deaths: Plan aims to cut rate by a third. USA Today, 3-23-04.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving