Washington, D.C. – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that a report shows that minimum 21-year-old drinking age laws prevented an estimated 4,441 drunken driving deaths in the last five years alone.

“Turning our back on these laws would be a deadly mistake,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Kelly, who presented the report at a symposium on the subject led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). “Minimum drinking age laws are among the most effective measures ever used to reduce drunken driving deaths among America’s young people.”

The new study also showed that the number of lives saved by motorcycle helmets has risen sharply in recent years, paralleling an increase in motorcycle use. The agency estimates that helmets saved 1,173 lives in 2003, a number that increased to 1,784 in 2007; over the five-year period ending last year, NHTSA estimates that 7,502 lives were saved because motorcyclists wore helmets.

Other statistics in the report said that in 2007 alone, frontal airbags saved the lives of 2,788 passengers aged 13 and older; child safety seats saved the lives of 358 children age four and under; and seatbelts saved 15,147 lives, and could have saved another 5,024 lives if they had been worn by all vehicle occupants involved in fatal crashes.

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