US Seat Belt Use Reaches Record High In 2012

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

A record 86% of Americans buckled up in 2012, up 2 percentage points from 2011, according to an annual survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“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 Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement released with the annual report.

The greatest improvements in seat belt use occurred in the South, where compliance rates rose from 80% in 2011 to 85% this year. The West has the highest percentage of seat belt use, at 94%.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual survey, “seat belt use has steadily increased since 1994, coinciding with a decline in the percentage of unrestrained daytime passenger vehicle fatalities.”

“Thanks to the ongoing work of our state and local partners and national efforts such as ‘Click it or Ticket,’ we’ve made steady gains in belt use in recent years,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

“Moving forward, it will be critical to build on this success using a multi-faceted approach that combines good laws, effective enforcement, and public education and awareness.”

The NHTSA noted that 32 states and the District of Columbia have “primary laws” that require seat belt use. These laws mean occupants can be pulled over solely for not using seat belts. Another 17 states have weaker, “secondary laws” that allow motorists to be cited for not wearing seat belts only when they have been pulled over for another violation.

“New Hampshire is the only state that has not enacted either a primary or secondary seat belt law, though the state’s primary child passenger safety law applies to all drivers and passengers under the age of 18,” the NHTSA said.

The annual survey is the only nationwide probability-based observational survey of seat belt use in the United States. The NHTSA enlisted observers who watched for seat belt use as it actually occurred at randomly selected roadway sites, thus providing the best tracking of the extent to which passenger vehicle occupants are buckling up.

The NHTSA´s full report can be viewed here.