Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951

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Author: Harry S Truman  | Date: February 22, 1951

42
Statement by the President on the Highway Safety Conference.
February 22, 1951

BECAUSE traffic accidents still result in appalling loss of life, personal injury, and economic wastage, the President’s Highway Safety Conference is to be reconvened in Washington the week of June 10. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Philip B. Fleming, as General Chairman of the Conference, is to initiate whatever other action may be needed to promote greater highway safety.

The Conference will be asked to reappraise current safety activities, determine the areas in which more effective action is required, and provide organized assistance to State and community officials and military authorities in stepping up the program to save lives on American streets and highways.

It is essential that each citizen, as driver or pedestrian, cooperate in the safety program, for most accidents are caused by individual carelessness and disregard of regulations.

Traffic accidents constitute serious proportions in these critical times. Preliminary figures for 1950 indicate that the number of deaths approached 35,000, personal injuries were suffered by 1,200,000, and the economic losses are estimated at $2 1/4 billion. The figures for last year are the highest since 1941—the all-time high year. This is the price the American public has paid for carelessness, ignorance, disregard of the law, and inefficient driving.

The toil can be reduced. A practical program of action was developed at the firstnational conference, which I called in 1946, and it has demonstrated encouraging results. For the Nation as a whole, the number of traffic deaths has been cut from 11.3 per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 1945 to less than 7 in 1950. The program has reduced accidents wherever it has been applied.

However, it has not offset the huge increase in motor vehicle usage. Today 48 million automobiles, trucks, and buses operate over our street and highway network, compared with a 1941 prewar peak of 34.5 million. Safety activities must be enlarged and intensified to match this greatly increased exposure to accident. The States and cities soon will complete a new annual inventory of traffic activities which, upon analysis, will direct efforts to those points where action must be taken.

NOTE: on the same day the White House made public a statement entitled "Summary of Highway Safety Needs." The statement emphasized the need for better enforcement, particularly in rural areas, and for better administration of traffic courts.

For the President’s remarks to the Highway Safety Conference, see Item 121.

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Chicago: Harry S Truman, "42 Statement by the President on the Highway Safety Conference.," Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1951 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.655-656 163. Original Sources, accessed February 27, 2020, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KSHRXVCNJ681AG.

MLA: Truman, Harry S. "42 Statement by the President on the Highway Safety Conference." Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1951 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.655-656, page 163. Original Sources. 27 Feb. 2020. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KSHRXVCNJ681AG.

Harvard: Truman, HS, '42 Statement by the President on the Highway Safety Conference.' in Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1951 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.655-656, pp.163. Original Sources, retrieved 27 February 2020, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KSHRXVCNJ681AG.