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Seat belt use by drivers, passengers reaches all-time high 75%

November 24, 2010

Seat belt use continued an upward trend this year to reach 75 percent, its highest level since national surveys began in 1994, according to the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. States with primary seat belt laws hit another milestone-80 percent belt use-and states with secondary laws averaged 69 percent, said the NHTSA's Jeffrey W. Runge. In states with a primary seat belt law, motor vehicle occupants can be stopped and cited by law enforcement officials for failing to wear belts whether or not another violation has occurred.

In states with secondary enforcement, a vehicle must be stopped for another offense before the occupant can be cited for failing to wear a belt. "Though we can't rest until seat belt use is 100 percent in this country, I amnevertheless pleased that we've reached another milestone," Runge said.

"More and more, people are realizing that seat belts are absolutely the most effective safety device in a car." The new data, drawn from a largescale observational study conducted by the NHTSA in June, show a 2 percentage- point increase in seat belt use since 2001. That increase translates into an additional 6 million users. Seat belt use rates in the Midwest, South and West are statistically similar, while rates in the Northeast continue to lag behind.