Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports seat belt use is
continuing an upward trend in 2002, reaching 75 percent - its
highest level since national surveys began in 1994.
The new data
- drawn from a large-scale observational study conducted by NHTSA
in June 2002 - show a 2 percent increase in seat belt use to 75
percent since 2001. A 2 percent increase in belt use translates
into an additional 6 million users. An estimated 500 lives per
year will be saved with the increase.
Some of the
strongest gains in seat belt use were in the states participating
in the nationwide "Click It or Ticket" enforcement campaign
around the Memorial Day holiday. A total of 30 states participated
in the campaign.
- historically the lowest region for seat belt use - showed the
largest gain, up 8 percent from last year to 69 percent. But drivers
and passengers in the West still buckle up at the highest rate
nationwide - 79 percent. Seat belt rates in the South (76 percent)
and Midwest (74 percent) are statistically similar.