Seat belt use across the U.S. has reached an all-time high, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The NHTSA began recording seat belt use in 1994 through the annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS). The study found that seat belt use for 2016 is at 90.1 percent, compared to 88.5 percent in 2015.
By region, seat belt usage is higher in the Western U.S. Belt use is also higher in states with seat belt laws; 34 states, including Oklahoma, have primary seat belt laws in place for front seat drivers and passengers, while 15 states have secondary seat belt use laws. States with primary laws allow officers to pull over a vehicle if they see someone in the vehicle not wearing a seat belt.
NOPUS is the only source offering probability-based seat belt use data in the U.S. It also gives information on additional vehicle restraint types, such as child seats, as well as data on driver electronic usage.
NTHSA officials credit seat belts with saving 14,000 lives last year and approximately 345,000 lives since 1975. Increased seat belt use can be credited to state legislators that have passed strict laws enabling law enforcement officials to apply crack-downs through programs like the annual Click it or Ticket campaign.
Despite new modern safety technology in vehicles, the seat belt proves to be the most effective vehicle safety device, according to the NHTSA.
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