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President Kennedy “Shocked” by Traffic Fatalities, Calls for Action

Apr. 9, 1963 - President Kennedy called today for a stepped-up drive to cut down the “shocking” toll of traffic fatalities. The President said last year’s record total of 41,000 highway deaths was “a senseless and distressing waste of human resources.” The President issued his statement after receiving a special report from his Committee for Traffic Safety, headed by William Randolph Hearst Jr. (right), editor-in-chief of the Hearst newspapers. President Kennedy said it was “shocking to realize that 41,000 of our citizens were killed in traffic accidents last year.” He noted that an additional 1.5 million were disabled, and another 3 million suffered less serious injuries. Noting that the cost of these accidents, exclusive of the human suffering involved, had been estimated at some $7 billion, the President said there was “no single answer” to the problem. He said the toll of deaths and injuries could be reduced by “an intensified and coordinated traffic safety program.” He noted his Administration had “activated an office of highway safety in the bureau of public roads to work with the states and communities in a wide-ranging safety program.”


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