Senator Lucio's Letterhead

PRESS RELEASE BY SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 19, 2005
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez , Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0127

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. encourages motorists to "Slow Down and Live"

HARLINGEN, TX-Supported by law enforcement officials from the five-county region comprising Senatorial District 27, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. presented his "Slow Down and Live" campaign at Sauza's Restaurant in Harlingen.

"My effort in this campaign is to tell motorists to drive a little slower, especially during the holiday season when people tend to rush a little more," said Sen. Lucio. "Many people will be traveling to visit family, and we want them to reach their loved ones safely.

"Like everyone else, I sometimes rush to get places, and I have to make a deliberate effort to remind myself to slow down because I'm sharing the road with other people's loved ones," Sen. Lucio added.

"Obeying the speed limits and wearing your seatbelts will increase the chance that you will survive a serious crash," said Col. Thomas A. Davis, Jr., director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). "Speeding is one of the biggest factors in fatality traffic crashes. Slowing down will help save your life."

All indications are that as the population increases, so do car accidents, especially those involving speed. Currently, DPS is negotiating a contract to update its database that will depict the increase in car crashes related to speed, so at present, data beyond 2001 is not yet available. Existing data shows a marked increase in traffic accidents and fatalities related to speed for the five counties Sen. Lucio represents-Cameron, part of Hidalgo, Kenedy, Kleberg and Willacy-as well as statewide.

Smart Motorist, a non-profit privately funded organization that assists motorists with varying types of information, states, "Speed reduces the amount of available time needed to avoid a crash, increases the likelihood of crashing and increases the severity of a crash once it occurs."

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, health and safety groups, insurance companies and agents, lists the following facts:

* Speeding-related crashes resulted in 13,192 fatalities in 2004. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, 2005)

* The economic costs of crashes that involved excessive speed were $40.4 billion, representing 18 percent of total crash costs and an average cost of $144 for every person in the United States. (NHTSA, 2002)

* Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when speed limits were raised by many states in 1996, travel speeds increased and motor vehicle fatalities went up approximately 15 percent on interstate highways in those states.

* When speed increases from 40 mph to 60 mph, the energy released in a crash more than doubles. (IIHS, 2003)

* The relative proportion of speeding-related crashes to all crashes decreases with increasing driver age. In 2002, 39 percent of male drivers 15 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. (NHTSA, 2003)

* Alcohol and speeding are a deadly combination. In 2002, 42 percent of drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to only 15 percent of sober drivers involved in fatal crashes. (NHTSA, 2003)

Another concern of Sen. Lucio's is advertising. He said, "I watch commercials for automobiles and speed is what is used to make the car sexy and sell. This is very disconcerting, especially when young people are watching commercials that promote speed over safety. I'd like to see this type of advertising changed."

He suggests calling and writing television stations and automobile makers to ask that their commercials focus more on the safety features of an automobile and less on speed.

The article "Slow Down, You Move Too Fast" in the December 2005 issue of State Legislatures, quotes former state trooper Lowell Porter, now director of Washington state's Traffic Safety Commission, who said that "…unless trends change, speed will overtake drunk driving as the leading cause of fatal crashes."

"I am very pleased that our local law enforcement officers from my senatorial district joined me today to remind us all to drive safer and slower," said the Senator. "Driving at excessive speeds is becoming one of our social ills that leads to serious injuries and deaths. We must all work together to combat this dangerous habit, and now is the time to do so!"

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