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Clinton Orders Seat Belt Use for Official Government Business

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 26, 1997 – President Clinton signed an executive order mandating all federal workers -- including military personnel -- to securely fasten their seat belts when driving on government business.

In signing the order April 16, Clinton also directs seat belt use by all drivers and passengers traveling through defense installations and national parks. He said passengers in vehicles equipped with seat belts and child restraint systems will use those systems while their vehicles are moving through areas.

Although not mandated, Clinton is also requesting government contracting agencies to encourage contractors into adopting and enforcing on-the-job seat belt policies for contract employees.

To further push mandatory seat belt use, Clinton is directing all federal executive branch agencies to promote and expand their existing seat belt programs. The president said this includes conducting education programs for federal employees about the importance of wearing seat belts and the consequences of not wearing them.

Clinton is also directing DoD and the National Park Service to consider regulatory changes on enhanced seat belt use requirements and standard enforcement of those requirements on their installations.

Wearing seat belts is nothing new to service members, according to Army Sgt. Karles Jackson, military police operations sergeant at Fort Myer, Va. "Military personnel have been required to wear seat belts for years -- on and off post," he said. "The order shouldn't affect the troops or DoD civilians who drive government vehicles because know they have to wear safety belts at all times."

However, Jackson said the order's biggest impact could affect federal workers and base visitors driving their personal vehicles on and off installations. "Current rules enforcing seat belt laws depend on state requirements," he said. "In Virginia, for example, we can't cite civilians [in their own cars] for not wearing seat belts unless we cite them for another violation and notice they're not wearing a belt. This order may change how we now enforce seat belt rules."

The executive order said DoD must complete an annual report to the president on its seat belt safety program. The report will include seat belt use rates, statistics of crashes and injuries, and related costs involving federal employees on official business. The DoD report will also identify specific programs that Clinton said will make "significant progress toward achieving the goals of this order or are notable and deserving of recognition."

The president said the Transportation Department will provide guidance to federal agencies that will assist them with their employee seat belt enforcement programs. Transportation is also consulting with the legislative and judicial branches of the federal government, encouraging those branches to adopt seat belt programs.

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