Washington – Safety belt use among U.S. drivers reached an all-time high in 2012, according to a new survey (.pdf file) released online Nov. 15 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Researchers observed 73,460 vehicles and 93,008 occupants at 1,700 randomly selected sites as part of the annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey and found that 86 percent of drivers buckled up – up from 84 percent in 2011. They also found that among Southern states, safety belt use increased to 85 percent in 2012 from 80 percent in 2011.
Among other findings, safety belt use was higher among states with primary safety belt laws (90 percent), compared to states with secondary or no laws (78 percent). Primary laws allow law enforcement officers to pull over a vehicle if they observe an unbelted driver or front-seat passenger. Secondary laws allow officers to ticket for violations only after stopping the motorist for another offense.