NSC Presidents Day Poll

National Safety Council Presidents Day Poll

The National Safety Council was founded in 1913 and quickly developed the mission of eliminating preventable deaths in the workplace, on the road, and in homes and communities. In recognition of Presidents Day, the Council is taking a look at six U.S. leaders who were seated after the organization’s founding and asking: Under which 20th century president was the U.S. made safest from preventable deaths and injuries?

Following is more information about each candidate and safety measures passed during each presidency.

Franklin Roosevelt

32nd President, March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945

During his presidency, the following passed:

  • Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act: Establishes minimum wage, maximum hours, and safety and health standards for work on contracts in excess of $15,000 for the manufacturing or furnishing of materials, supplies, articles or equipment to the U.S. government or the District of Columbia.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act: Establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state and local governments.

Harry Truman

33rd President, April 12, 1945, to Jan. 20, 1953

During his presidency, the following were formed:

  • Federal Committee on Highway Safety: Promoted highway safety and the reduction of highway traffic accidents and encouraged federal agencies concerned with highway safety activities to cooperate with state and local government agencies, as well as nationwide highway safety organizations, that shared similar concerns.
  • Communicable Disease Center: Founded in 1946 to protect the public from diseases brought into the U.S. by soldiers returning from out of the country. Today the organization, now known as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is recognized as the nation’s premiere health promotion, prevention and preparedness agency.

Dwight Eisenhower

34th President, Jan. 20, 1953, to Jan. 20, 1961

During his presidency, the following were granted, formed or passed:

  • National Safety Council charter: Granted by the president in 1953, the charter dictates that the Council will further, encourage and promote methods and procedures leading to increased safety, protection and health among employees, employers and children in industries, on farms, in schools and colleges, in homes, on streets and highways, in recreation, and in other public and private places.
  • Department of Health, Education, and Welfare: Now known as the Department of Health and Human Services, the mission of this organization is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans by providing for effective health and human services. It also fosters sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health and social services.
  • Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: Served as a catalyst for the interstate system's development and, ultimately, its completion. It also called for nationwide standards for design of the system, authorized an accelerated program, established a new method for apportioning funds among the states and set the federal government's share of project cost at 90%.
  • Federal Aviation Act: Transferred the Civil Aeronautics Authority functions to a new independent Federal Aviation Agency responsible for civil aviation safety. The agency eventually became the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Interdepartmental Highway Safety Board: Provided leadership and guidance of official activities that affected the safety of travel on public streets and highways, and was to establish a coordinated traffic safety program for federal agencies.

Lyndon Johnson

36th President, Nov. 22, 1963, to Jan. 20, 1969

During his presidency, the following were formed or passed:

  • Department of Transportation: Assures the coordinated, effective administration of federal government transportation programs. Today, the DOT continues work to ensure the U.S. has the safest, most efficient and modern transportation system in the world, and it also seeks to increase the productivity and competitiveness of American workers and businesses.
  • Gun Control Act: Seeks to regulate interstate and foreign commerce in firearms, including importation, "prohibited persons" and licensing provisions.
  • Highway Safety Act: Authorized the State Highway Safety Program (or Section 402), which supports state highway safety programs designed to reduce traffic crashes. A state is eligible for State Highway Safety Program grants by having and implementing an approved Highway Safety Plan.
  • National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act: Originally enacted in 1966 (and now re-codified as 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301), this act currently gives the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet federal safety standards.

Richard Nixon

37th President, Jan. 20, 1969, to Aug. 9, 1974

During his presidency, the following were formed or passed:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Ensures safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: Consolidated into one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection. Since its inception, it has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment.
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission: Charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 to carry out safety programs under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the Highway Safety Act of 1966. NHTSA also carries out consumer programs established by the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972 (now re-codified in various chapters under Title 49).
  • National Maximum Speed Law: Prohibited speeds higher than 55 miles per hour. The law was repealed in 1995, allowing states to set their own maximum speed limits.

Ronald Reagan

40th President, Jan. 20, 1981, to Jan. 20, 1989

During his presidency, the following were passed or formed:

  • National Minimum Drinking Age Act: The bill approved by Congress would penalize states that failed to enact a minimum drinking age of 21 years and reward states with mandatory sentencing for drunken drivers. All states eventually adopted an age 21 minimum drinking age.
  • Section 408 program: Beginning in 1982, Congress developed a series of grant programs to encourage states to enact strong and effective impaired driving laws. To qualify for a basic grant under the Section 408 program, states were required to meet four criteria, including the enactment of a .10 BAC per se law. States that qualified for basic grant funds could qualify for supplemental grants based on additional criteria, including the enactment of a .08 per se law.