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KEMPER NATIONAL EXECUTIVE CALLS FOR ADDITIONAL GOVERNMENT 'INVESTMENT' IN HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAMS

 WASHINGTON, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Federal funds invested in injury prevention such as highway safety programs can pay bigger dividends in lives and dollars saved than money spent on preventing diseases, Michael F. Dineen, vice president of federal relations for the Kemper National Insurance Companies, told the House Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on Transportation Thursday. The subcommittee is crafting the fiscal year 1994 Transportation Appropriations bill.
 "We must look closely at how government revenues are spent, especially at a time of budgetary constraints. As in the private sector, we must make wise investments," said Dineen. "Experience has clearly shown that our investments in government safety regulations and policies have paid off well in decreases in deaths, injuries and related costs due to motor vehicle crashes."
 According to the 1985 landmark study, "Injury in America: A Continuing Public Health Problem," research expenditures for all injuries totaled $112 million, compared to the 4.1 million years of life lost due to injury; cancer research expenditures were almost 10 times higher ($998 million) for 1.7 million years of life lost; and heart disease and stroke research expenditures were $624 million, for 2.1 million years of life lost.
 The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) created a framework for future federal investments by establishing a wide-ranging safety agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
 Priorities for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to Dineen, should include rulemaking activities; further biomechanics research; a grant program for highway safety education, enforcement and training; an incentive program to encourage states to adopt safety belt and motorcycle helmet-use laws; and truck safety provisions.
 "Whether or not these objectives are met will be greatly influenced by the level of your subcommittee's involvement, interest and support," Dineen said. "Last year, to assure that the agency had the resources to stay on schedule, Congress increased the budget for NHTSA's rulemaking program and provided additional staff. We urge the subcommittee to retain and build upon these resources."
 NHTSA recently estimated the cost of motor vehicle crashes at more than $137 billion per year, and each year approximately 40,000 people die and millions are injured on the highways. Highway crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans under age 35.
 "Although these crashes exact a high toll for our society, prevention efforts get far less support than efforts to prevent other public health problems," Dineen said. "We urge the subcommittee to address this important public health problem by providing the adequate resources for these vital safety programs. With a relatively small investment in safety, we can save lives, prevent injuries, reduce federal, state and local costs and spare families the trauma of a loss or a lifetime of pain."
 Dineen spoke on behalf of Kemper National and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Kemper National was a founding board member of Advocates, a coalition of consumer, safety and insurance organizations formed to reduce deaths, injuries and economic costs associated with motor vehicle crashes, fraud and theft.
 Kemper National is the 14th largest property-casualty insurer in the country. It had 1992 sales of $3.1 billion and operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and many foreign markets.
 -0- 5/7/93
 /CONTACT: Derrick K. Baker for Kemper National, 708-540-2520/
 (KEM)


CO: Kemper National Insurance Companies ST: District of Columbia IN: INS SU:

LR -- NY037 -- 5903 05/07/93 11:18 EDT
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Date:May 7, 1993
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