Seat Belt Use at its Highest Level

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]