August 27, 2003

More Americans wearing their seatbelts

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta
announced that safety belt use in the United States has reached 79
percent – up from 75% in 2002 – and the highest level in the nations

Every region of the U.S.A. registered increases in belt use since 2002,
according to a new survey by the U.S. Department of Transportations
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The nationwide
survey was conducted after the massive “Click It or Ticket” mobilization
in May, the largest-ever nationwide law enforcement effort to increase
safety belt use.

The May enforcement mobilization was, for the first time, supplemented
by an almost $25 million state and national media campaign. More than
12,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states, the District of
Columbia and Puerto Rico conducted safety belt checkpoints and other
special law enforcement activities as part of the campaign.

According to NHTSA estimates, the increase in belt use this year will
translate into more than 1,000 lives saved each year the gains are
sustained. In addition, the costs to society are reduced by at least
$3.2 billion.

States with primary safety belt laws averaged 83 percent belt usage
while states with secondary laws averaged 75 percent. Twenty states, the
District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have primary belt laws.

Pickup truck occupants registered the lowest usage rate  69 percent
 among passenger vehicles. Occupants of sport utility vehicles (SUVs)
and vans registered the highest use rate  83 percent.

Usage is lowest in the Northeast (74 percent) followed by the Midwest at
75 percent. Belt use is highest in the West (84 percent) and South (80

NHTSA has been gathering statistics on restraint use since 1994. The
latest numbers were derived from a survey conducted during a 20-day
period in June 2003.

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