NHTSA: Seat belt use reaches 75 percent

| 9/17/2002

The National 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.

The Northeast - 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.