October 3, 2005

Record number of Americans using seatbelts

Washington, D.C. – A record 82 per cent of Americans wear their seatbelts while riding or driving, reports U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) between 2004 and 2005, 10 per cent of non-users adopted the habit of buckling up. In the past five years, seatbelt use has increased steadily from 71 per cent in 2000 to 82 per cent in 2005.

At the rate of 82 per cent, Mineta said seatbelts are preventing 15,700 fatalities, 350,000 serious injuries, and US$67 billion in costs associated with traffic injuries and deaths. The increase in the last year alone has prevented 540 fatalities, 8,000 serious injuries and US$1.8 billion in costs. Much of the rise is attributed to states that have passed primary seatbelt laws; twenty-one states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws that allow police officers to stop motorists solely for belt violations, and South Carolina’s law will take effect in December.

The survey also found that between 2004 and 2005, the use of DOT-approved motorcycle helmets dropped from 58 per cent to 48 per cent nationwide. Helmet use in states without mandatory laws was 37 per cent.

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