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 |  Oct 09 2010, 2:32 PM

It’s a little thing that does so much. By buckling up in the car, you increase your chances of surviving a serious car accident. And now, seat belt use in the U.S. has risen to 85 percent – its highest level yet.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released these new stats that show that the numbers for seat belt use are up one percent from last year. Other increases include seat belt use in rural areas (up from 81 percent to 83 percent) and drivers who use expressways (an increase from 89 percent to 91 percent).

And what’s the driving factor behind this rise? The NHTSA seams to think it’s because of police enforcement. When seat belt use is a primary law in a state, use of the safety devices is higher (88 percent).  For those states that don’t have stricter enforcement, they have significantly less compliance (76 percent).

In another NHTSA study, they found that in 2009, seat belts saved an estimated 12,713 lives. Over a five-year period from 2005 to 2009, they saved over 72,000 lives. What’s sad is that an additional 3,688 lives would’ve been saved if all passengers over 5-years old involved in fatal crashes had bucked up. But thanks to campaigns such as “Click it or Ticket,” people have started to really get the message about seat belt safety.

Here are some more 2009 stats from the NHTSA found that in 2009: that year, 2,381 lives were saved by frontal air bags and 1,483 lives were saved by motorcycle helmets. If all of the motorcycle riders had used a helmet, 723 more lives would’ve been saved. By enforcing a minimum drinking age law, 623 lives were saved and child restraints saved 309 children 4-years old and younger.

[Source: Consumer Reports]

 |  Jun 02 2010, 10:01 AM

The Click It or Ticket seatbelt safety campaign is in full force, and this summer, the focus of law enforcement officers will be on night time drivers who fail to buckle up. That’s right – justice never sleeps!

One of the most successful highway safety campaigns in U.S. history, the Click It or Ticket message this year is that seat belts need to be worn at night as well as during the day. The reasoning behind the added twist is based on data that shows that drivers are less likely to wear seat belts after dark because it’s more difficult for police to spot whether or not they’ve buckled up. There are numbers to back this up – in 2008, 64 percent of the people killed in accidents after 6 p.m. were not wearing their seat belts. Compare that to 48 percent of drivers not wearing a seat belt that died in daytime accidents.

Other interesting stats to note, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shows that 38 people not wearing seat belts die in car crashes daily, and the highest rate of unbelted death are among young men and pickup truck drivers.

Use of seat belts in cars gained popularity in the 1960s, about a decade after studies debunked the popular belief that most car-accident fatalities were caused by the accordion-like collapse of their cars. It took several more years before seatbelts became optional items in most cars and even longer before they were mandatory. Even though wearing them was the law, it didn’t mean that drivers used them. By 1980, 11 percent of Americans used them. Compare that to 84 percent of drivers who use them today.

[Source: Kicking Tires]

 |  Jun 01 2010, 10:41 AM

A sure sign of summer, the “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt campaign is in full force. And it seems to be working – 84 percent of Americans buckle up. This is the highest rate of seatbelt use recorded.

The annual event, which runs from May 24 to June 5, is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and is delivered through a law enforcement blitz and crackdown. The police officers stationed at check points across the country enforce a zero tolerance, round-the-clock sweep for motorists who fail to wear a safety belt.

Although this event only lasts two weeks, wearing a seatbelt should be a habit you get into 365 days a year. And it’s surprising how many drivers fail to institute this important safety feature into their daily commute. Many states, such as Massachusetts, Wyoming, and New Hampshire (the only state without any seatbelt law), fall below the national average with a usage rate around 70 percent. There are 19 states that do not enforce a primary law, which allows drivers to be pulled over for failing to wear a seat belt, and four of these states have a primary law only for teenagers and younger passengers. The most likely to drive without a seatbelt are men aged 18 to 34.

[Source: Consumer Reports]