In a year that has certainly been a mind-blower, 2016 did have some really good news. People have listened and gotten into the habit of using their seat belts! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, seat belt use reached a historic 90 percent high since the Feds began yearly surveys in 1994.
The study, known as the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) reported that daytime seat belt use (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) reached 90.1 percent, up from 2015’s 88.6 percent.
“Vehicles have many more safety features today than ever before, but there is nothing more important than the simple seat belt,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “We are encouraged by this progress, but with so many people still dying in crashes because they are not wearing their seat belts, we will not rest until we reach 100 percent.”
Seat Belt Campaign and Resulting Statistics
It’s been known for a long time that seat belts save lives. Do you remember Vince and Larry, the crash test dummies used in a public service campaign in the 80s and 90s? That campaign is credited with a huge increase in awareness of the benefit of seat belt use. Also credited for positive changes are the country’s auto safety agencies, state legislators, Congress, and enforcement by police officers.
Seat belts saved an estimated 14,000 lives in 2015 and approximately 345,000 lives since 1975.
The NHTSA’s report also noted that the Western part of the U.S. uses seat belts more often than do other parts of the country. In addition, seat belt use continued to be higher in the States with primary belt use laws. Thirty-four states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants, while 15 states have secondary laws. In many of these states, the law is primary for younger drivers and/or passengers.
Other significant increases in the last year are among drivers and passengers of vans and SUVs, and those in rural areas.
To see NHTSA’s full report, go to https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812351
Arkansas Seat Belt Laws
Twenty-two states do not require adults to use a seat belt if riding in the back. That includes Arkansas. In Arkansas, all front-seat occupants 15 years and older must wear a seat belt. Anyone under 15 must wear an appropriate safety restraint in both the front and back seats. The maximum fine per person is $25.
I urge that everyone who is in a motor vehicle, including backseat passengers, buckle up. It is a small action to take to save your life.
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