Friday, January 14, 2011

CDC Study Finds Seat Belt Use Up to 85 Percent Nationally

Still, 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip

Almost 6 out of 7 U.S. drivers surveyed report that they always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle, according to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seat belt use has become the national norm in most states, though rates of self-reported seat belt use vary widely from state to state, with a high of 94 percent (Oregon) and a low of 59 percent (North Dakota).

Still, every 14 seconds, an adult in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries.

The study found that states with primary seat belt enforcement laws, where police officers can pull cars over and issue tickets solely because drivers and passengers are unbelted, have higher rates of seat belt use than states with secondary enforcement laws, which only allow officers to issue tickets to drivers who have been pulled over for violating another law. States with primary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 88 percent, whereas states with secondary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 79 percent. The national average for seat belt use is 85 percent.

According to previous research by CDC and others, everyone is encouraged to take the following steps:
  • Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short.
  • Encourage everyone in the car to buckle up, including those in the back seat.
  • Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, booster seat, or car seat, whichever is age- and size-appropriate.
  • Have all children ages 12 and under sit in the back seat.
For more information about seat belts and motor vehicle safety, visit and

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