Monday, November 17, 2003
|Contact: NHTSA, Ellen Martin, (202) 366-9550
DOT, Ben Langer, 202-366-5580
New DOT Data Show Rising Safety Belt Use Rates in Most States
Forty states plus the District of Columbia achieved higher safety belt use rates in 2003 than the year before, according to a new statistical analysis released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Safety belt use in the United States has reached 79 percent – the highest level in the nation’s history.
The new statistics were released by NHTSA at a press event in Washington, DC, to announce the national launch of the latest "Click It or Ticket Mobilization." The mobilization is a nationwide crackdown by law enforcement to enforce seat belt and child passenger safety laws during the Thanksgiving holiday period, Nov. 17-30.
"I urge states to enact primary safety belt use laws because they have been proved effective in convincing people to buckle up," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. "Saving lives is one of the Bush administration’s highest priorities, and as evidence of this, our Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (SAFETEA) proposal more than doubles funding for safety over the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21). Safety belts are the most effective device for saving lives of motorists. Everyone should buckle up every time they ride in a motor vehicle."
Now ranking among the top five jurisdictions for safety belt use are the state of Washington (94.8 percent use); Hawaii (91.8 percent use); California (91.2 percent use); Oregon (90.4 percent use); and Maryland (87.9 percent use).
The five states achieving the greatest gains in safety belt use this year are Alaska, with a 13.1 percentage point gain; Arizona, with a 12.5 percentage point gain; Massachusetts, with a 10.7 percentage point gain; Indiana, with a 10.1 percentage point gain; and Idaho, with an 8.8 percentage point gain.
While many U.S. states and jurisdictions have achieved higher safety belt use rates this year, a few others have reported statistics indicating a drop in belt use.
"It would be impossible to overstate the lifesaving and dollar saving impact of increases in safety belt use. It remains vitally important that all of our citizens buckle up," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.
In addition to the latest NHTSA statistics showing significant gains in safety belt use in many jurisdictions, DOT last August released results of a nationwide survey conducted following a massive "Click It or Ticket" mobilization in May. Findings of that survey showed that safety belt use in the United States has reached 79 percent.
Nationwide restraint use estimates are based on the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), conducted annually by NHTSA. The previous survey in June 2002 found nationwide belt use at 75 percent. This scientific survey was based on observations at 2,000 sites across the country. The margin of error for the NOPUS survey on the national estimates of restraint use is plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.
The numbers used in the new statistical analysis put out by NHTSA were derived from data collected by the states through their own surveys, conducted in accord with uniform national criteria. NHTSA then compiled and analyzed these statistics for today’s release.
The "Click It or Ticket" mobilization will involve more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies. Sponsors of the event include NHTSA, the National Transportation Safety Board, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Airbag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign of the National Safety Council.
Click here to view state-by-state safety belt use rate data on the Internet.
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