Seat Belt Use in U.S. Reaches Historic 90%

Seat belt use in the United States has reached an all-time high of 90% in the year 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives during 2015 alone and an estimated 345,000 lives since 1975.

A very interesting statistic pulled from the DOT Research Note is the difference in seat belt use between primary enforcement states—92.1%—and secondary enforcement states—83.0%. Primary enforcement means a peace officer can pull a vehicle over for a seat belt violation, whereas in secondary enforcement states, a peace offer cannot pull a vehicle over for that reason, but if the vehicle is already pulled over for another reason, like speeding, then the officer can issue a ticket for a seat belt violation.

NHTSA credits the increased seat belt use rate to national campaigns such as Click-it-or-Ticket and even the famous advertising campaigns from the 1990s like Vince and Larry, the crash test dummies. One could say that with less than 10% of Americans not wearing their all-important, life-saving seat belts, that you’d have to be dummy to not buckle up.