Seat Belt Information

Seat Belts – The Best Choice

Congratulations America; we are finally getting the message! In June of 2005 the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) found that on average 82% of all drivers are now using safety belts when driving; the highest percentage ever recorded for U.S. drivers. This is a great improvement compared to the mere 58% of drivers who wore them in 1994. Unfortunately, failure to wear a seat belt still significantly contributes to the number of traffic-related fatalities each year.

Data suggests that young people between the ages of 15 and 20 are the least likely to buckle up, even with all the education they receive on the importance of safety belt usage. In 2004, 7,898 15-20 year olds were involved in fatal crashes and of that number 3,620 died. Surprisingly enough, these statistics are not so heavily weighted by young men anymore. There has been a 15% increase in the number of young females involved in fatal crashes since 1994.

This age group continues to be the highest-risk drivers, with high levels of drunk driving, speeding, and many crashes. 29% of those killed in crashes were under the influence of alcohol, and 74% of those killed were unrestrained. The age with the highest rate of fatally injured, intoxicated young people was 18 years old. This is a very tough group to reach and motivate, thus the safety belt usage laws, and enforcement of those laws will hopefully get them to buckle up. In 21 of the 49 states with these laws, primary enforcement is allowed, which enables officers to pull a person over and write them a citation whenever they see them not wearing a seat belt.

Seat belts are still the most effective safety devices today. If all drivers and vehicle occupants over age 4 wore seatbelts, 21,273 lives could have been saved in 2004. Combined with air bags this statistic would be even more, and billions of dollars in health care costs could be saved. It is important to remember that air bags are supplemental, and are not a 100% life saving device. They are designed to be used in conjunction with seat belts.

Remember that air bags can be dangerous and harmful to small children. To keep your precious little ones as safe as possible, children ages 12 and under should be buckled up in the back seat. If at all possible, do not put child safety seats where there could be direct contact from a deployed air bag, and always use safety seats in accordance with the manufacturer’s and vehicle instructions.

Let us strive to make our roads, and our lives, as safe as possible! Buckle up!

*Information from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (NHTA)