If you’re one of those who can’t even move the car up the driveway without having a seatbelt on, don’t feel alone. According to the latest survey by the Centers for Disease Control, more Americans than ever are clicking it – but the study also raises questions about those who won’t buckle up despite overwhelming evidence that seatbelts are the most effective safety device ever added to the automobile.
The CDC found that 85% of American motorists are wearing their belts, a dramatic, nearly eight-fold increase over the last 30 years.
“Not wearing seatbelts is costing us lives and money,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. Buckling up, he stressed, “cuts in half the chance of being seriously injured or killed in a crash.”
The good news is that increased seatbelt usage appears to be paying off in the steady decline in traffic injuries and fatalities. The highway death rate, which peaked in 1988 at 47,087, fell by nearly a third, to 33,000 in 2009, the latest year for which federal data are available.
Still, an estimated 2.3 million Americans were treated in emergency rooms for crash-related injuries in 2009 and the CDC estimates the annual cost of medical care related to vehicular collisions totals more than $11 billion.