Wearing Seat Belts Leads to Fewer Injuries on the Road
Early last month, my parents and my children were involved in a minor, but scary, car accident. No one was hurt because everyone in the car was wearing their seat belts. A new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that this safety initiative is being followed by the majority of all Americans.
Six Out of Seven Americans Wear Seat Belts on Every Trip
Researches with the CDC analyzed the findings from two national sources: 2009 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (data on non-fatal injuries treated in US emergency departments) and the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (data on self-reported risk behaviors).
Almost 6 out of every 7 drivers (85%) report that they always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. “Wearing a seat belt on every trip has become the norm in America,” says CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.
However, the findings do vary by state. Those living in Oregon were most likely to buckle up (94%) while residents of North Dakota were least likely (59%). Other states with high seat belt use include California, Washington Hawaii, New Jersey, and Texas.
Seat belt use is highest in states that have primary enforcement laws, where police officers have authority to issue citations for unbelted drivers and passengers. Some states only have secondary enforcement laws that allow officers to write citations for not wearing a seat belt, but only if they are pulled over for another reason.
New Hampshire is the only state in the nation without any seat belt laws.
The wearing of a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short, has translated into fewer injuries and deaths on the road. Seat belts reduce the risk of being killed or seriously injured in a crash by about 50%, per the CDC.
Unfortunately, although 6 out of 7 wear their seat belts, that still leaves one out of seven that do not and among children and young people aged five to 34, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death. More than 2 million adults are treated each year injuries involving vehicle accidents.
So for every trip you take, encourage everyone in the car to buckle up, even those in the back seat. Ensure children are using the appropriate safety measures, including a car seat or booster seat if applicable. I am one parent who is grateful that my parents took 5 extra minutes to ensure my children were safe in their car.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 4, 2011