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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Seat Belt Use Sets Record Levels

83 Percent of U.S. Vehicle Occupants Wore Seat Belts in 2008

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters recently announced that seat belt use is at an all-time high. In 2008, 83 percent of vehicle occupants used seat belts, compared with 82 percent in 2007. "More and more Americans are realizing that the mere seconds it takes to buckle up can mean the difference between life and death," Secretary Peters said. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 270 lives are saved for every one percent increase in belt use. A contributing factor for such historically high seat belt use is high-visibility law enforcement efforts, like the Department’s "Click It or Ticket" campaign. "We are committed to supporting state and local law enforcement in their front-line efforts to encourage belt use," said acting NHTSA Administrator David Kelly.

The report states that 84 percent of passenger car occupants are buckling up. An even greater number of people, 86 percent, are buckling up in vans and SUVs, and pickup truck riders buckled up 74 percent of the time. The report says that seat belt use increased or remained level in every region of the country, with the highest use being reported in the West (93 percent), and the lowest in the Midwest and Northeast (79 percent). The South reported 81 percent usage. States with primary belt laws are averaging about 13 percentage points higher for seat belt use (88 percent) than states with secondary laws (75 percent). Police can issue a citation for a seat-belt violation alone in primary belt law states. In secondary law states, seat belt citations are permitted only after a stop for another violation. It is also noted that belt use on expressways is now at an estimated 90 percent while belt use on lower-speed "surface" streets remains at 80 percent.

Seat belt use and other data are collected each year by NHTSA as part of the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS). The most recent survey, conducted in June of 2008, compiled daylight observations of vehicle occupant behavior at more than 1800 sites nationwide. To see the latest seat belt report, click on the link below:

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