Congress passed the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in May of 1998. There are several programs in TEA-21 that make a direct impact on seat belt use and occupant protection. The three most important programs funded by the Act are:
- Section 157 Seat Belt Incentive Grant program. This program authorized half a billion dollars over five years to encourage states to increase seat belt use rates. States apply for grant money under this program and may use grant funds for any eligible Title 23 project (including approved construction projects). The TEA-21 Act also encourages innovative state-level projects that promote increased seat belt use rates and child passenger safety activities.
- Section 405 (a) Occupant Protection Incentive Grant program. This program deploys $83 million over five years to target specific occupant protection laws and programs. States can receive grants under this program if they demonstrate that they have enacted certain occupant protection laws and programs, such as primary safety belt use laws and special traffic enforcement programs.
- Section 2003 (b) program. This portion of the TEA-21 established a two-year program for year 2000 and 2001. In the program, states received grants if they implemented child passenger protection education and training activities.