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Seat Belt Use Reaches All-Time High

Southern drivers begin buckling up.

by on Nov.15, 2012

An early seat belt system on a 1961 Volvo PV 544 now on display at the Smithsonian. The Swedish maker was the first to introduce the technology.

More Americans are buckling up than ever before, according to the nation’s traffic safety agency, hitting an all-time record 86% in part due to a significant increase in the South.

The trend towards increased seat belt usage has been credited for the dramatic decrease in U.S. road deaths over the last decade.

“When it comes to driving safely, one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and your family is to use a seat belt,” said Ray LaHood Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, adding that there will be a push to drive the figures even higher during the upcoming holiday season.

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While seat belt usage has been mandatory in much of the industrialized world for decades, the U.S. had, at best, a hodgepodge of laws and, in some states, police still cannot issue tickets for failure to use the primary safety device unless a motorist commits another offense. But a growing number of states have turned the violation into a primary offense and have joined in national efforts to get motorists to buckle up.


Seatbelt Usage Soars to Record 85%

Why do the other 15% have a death wish?

by on Jan.06, 2011

The kid is no dummy. Americans are buckling up more than ever.

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.”

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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.


U.S. DOT Targets 45 Million Unbuckled Americans

"Click it or Ticket" campaign aims to increase seat belt use.

by on May.24, 2010

A vast source of revenue comes from an estimated 45 million unbelted drivers.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today announced that while seat belt use is at a record high 84% nationwide, 45 million Americans are still not using seat belts when riding in motor vehicles.

In an effort to increase belt use and save lives, the Secretary kicked off “Click It or Ticket,” a national “enforcement mobilization” that encourages all motorists to wear their seat belts – day and night. Drivers caught not wearing their seat belt run the risk of being ticketed.

LaHood says that on any given day about 38 people who are not buckled-up are killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2008, nearly 14,000 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants lost their lives on U.S. roadways. Nearly half of them could have been saved if they had been belted.

“We’ve made great strides to get Americans to buckle up, but we must not rest on our laurels,” said Secretary LaHood. “Not wearing your seat belt is a serious, life-threatening practice. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who won’t buckle up, our Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization will be looking for you.”

NHTSA statistics also show that those least likely to buckle-up are:  teens, young adults, males, nighttime riders,  motorists traveling on rural roads, and individuals traveling in pick-up trucks.

“Regular seat belt use is the single best way to protect yourself and your family in motor vehicle crashes,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

The “Click It or Ticket” campaign is set to run from May 24 through June 6, 2010. The mobilization, expected to involve more than 10,000 police agencies, is supported by $8 million in national advertising funded through Congress and coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The ads, which will air in English and Spanish, generate awareness of the increased enforcement efforts and the increased chance of getting a ticket if you are not buckled up. Ads will be aired on television, radio, and online.