The federal government reports that seat belt use in the United States has reached its highest level since regular national surveys began in 1994. How much of a difference does seat belt use matter? Keep reading to find out.
The latest data comes from a study by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It shows that daytime belt use reached 90.1 percent, up from 88.5 percent, in 2015. Even with higher use, NHTSA notes that nearly half (48 percent) of people killed in crashes in 2015 were not wearing their belts. When used properly, lap/shoulder belts reduce the risk of death to front-seat passenger or car occupants by 45 percent. And belts reduce the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.
Seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives during 2015 and an estimated 375,000 lives since 1975. NHTSA credits state legislators for enacting strong laws, and the nation’s police officers for strong enforcement of those laws.
Of note in the latest survey is that seat belt use is higher in the West than in other regions of the United States, and in states with primary belt use laws. In 34 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, drivers can be stopped for the sole offense of failure to use seat belts. In states with secondary laws, drivers can be cited only if they are stopped for another violation.
Share the facts with your staff
The more employees know about the risks of not buckling up, the better the chance that they will comply. According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), employers spend an extra $5 billion per year on traffic incidents involving employees who were not wearing their seat belts, whether they took place on or off the job. The same report found that medical costs paid per employee injured in a crash were nearly double in on-the-job incidents where the employee was not wearing a seat belt.
NETS has developed a free online toolkit called 2seconds2click. It includes a communication plan for a six-week seat belt usage campaign. The kit offers a kick-off presentation, handouts, activities, and help conducting observation surveys at the start and end of the campaign. Learn more at http://www.trafficsafety.org.