Despite awareness campaigns, millions still not buckling up

| 5/15/2006

Despite the highest safety belt-use rate ever recorded in the U.S., 48 million Americans still fail to buckle up, according to a recently released report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The report, titled “Research Note: Restraint Use Patterns Among Fatally Injured Passenger Vehicle Occupants,” found the last of the unbuckled to be largely young and male, likely to live in rural areas and/or drive pickup trucks.

The release of the report coincides with NHTSA’s national “Click It or Ticket” crackdown on belt-law violators, which runs from May 22 through June 4. The law enforcement effort is supported by more than $31 million in national and state ads that begin airing May 15.

The new NHTSA report provides a detailed state-by-state profile of the people who still don’t buckle up. Nationally, the number is 18 percent, but varies by state. The report does not identify specifically the use of seat belts in commercial vehicles.

“It’s an undisputable fact that safety belts help save lives. Still, millions of Americans aren’t buckling up every time they are in a motor vehicle,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Jacqueline Glassman in a press release.

The two-week “Click It or Ticket” crackdown will end just two days before the start of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s 19th annual International 72-hour Roadcheck. On Tuesday, June 6, through Thursday, June 8, inspections will be conducted throughout the U. S., Canada and Mexico.

The CVSA checks focus on the year-round commercial vehicle and driver roadside inspection program and draw the public’s attention to the continuous and combined efforts of law enforcement and the truck and bus industries to improve safety on North American highways.

Approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified truck and bus safety inspectors across North America were on the job inspecting commercial vehicles during the 2005 Roadcheck, with more than 60,000 inspections performed during the three-day blitz.

Participating agencies include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, the Research and Special Programs Administration and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico).

CVSA’s members include enforcement agencies from all 50 U.S. states and industry representatives throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States.

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer