• Jan 5, 2011
According to the Center for Disease Control, seatbelt use among American adults is at an all-time high. In a recent study, 85 percent of those surveyed said that they wear their seatbelts regularly. That number is up from just 11 percent in 1982, though the CDC points out that at least one in every seven adults still don't wear their seatbelts on the road. That's despite evidence that points to automotive accidents as the number one cause of death in the U.S. among people aged 5 to 34.

So which states take the cake for seatbelt use? The CDC says that Oregon has the highest rate of buckling up, with 94 percent of respondents from that state claiming to use their belts on a regular basis. North Dakota came in dead last, with a paltry 54 percent of those surveyed strapping in. Not surprisingly, the study found that states that have laws allowing police officers to pull over a driver solely for not wearing their seatbelt have significantly higher rates of buckling up. Click on the jump for a look at the full synopsis, but before you head over there, make sure to take our poll on seatbelt use below.




[Sources: CNN Health, CDC | Image: Volvo]
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CDC Study Finds Seat Belt Use Up to 85 Percent Nationally
Still, 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip

Almost 6 out of 7 U.S. drivers surveyed report that they always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seat belt use has become the national norm in most states, though rates of self-reported seat belt use vary widely from state to state, with a high of 94 percent (Oregon) and a low of 59 percent (North Dakota).

Still, every 14 seconds, an adult in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries.

"A simple step that most drivers and passengers in the United States already take-buckling their seat belts-cuts in half the chance of being seriously injured or killed in a crash," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. "Yet, about 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip. If everyone in the vehicle buckled up every time, we could further reduce one of the leading causes of death."

The study was in Vital Signs, a section of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The study found that states with primary seat belt enforcement laws, where police officers can pull cars over and issue tickets solely because drivers and passengers are unbelted, have higher rates of seat belt use than states with secondary enforcement laws, which only allow officers to issue tickets to drivers who have been pulled over for violating another law. States with primary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 88 percent, whereas states with secondary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 79 percent. The national average for seat belt use is 85 percent.

If the secondary law states had achieved 88 percent belt use in 2008, it would have resulted in an additional 7.3 million adults buckling up.

Though 1 in 3 U.S. adults lived in states with secondary enforcement laws in 2008, residents of these states accounted for 49 percent of the unbelted drivers and passengers on U.S. roads. Nineteen states do not have primary enforcement seat belt laws.

"As seatbelt use increases and more states pass primary enforcement laws, we are seeing crash-related injuries decline," said Linda Degutis, Dr. PH, MSN, director of CDC's Injury Center. "This indicates that primary enforcement laws, paired with vigorous enforcement programs, get more people to wear seat belts. We know that buckling up can make a life-saving difference."

For the study, CDC researchers analyzed two national sources: 2009 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program data on non-fatal injuries treated in emergency departments nationwide and 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data on self-reported risk behaviors.

To help increase seat belt use and protect more people on the road, CDC supports:

* Primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover all drivers and passengers of appropriate age and size, regardless of whether they are sitting in the front or back seat of the vehicle.

According to previous research by CDC and others, everyone is encouraged to take the following steps:

* Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short.
* Encourage everyone in the car to buckle up, including those in the back seat.
* Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, booster seat, or car seat, whichever is age- and size-appropriate.
* Have all children ages 12 and under sit in the back seat.

CDC is also releasing "Policy Impact: Seat Belts," one in a series of briefs highlighting key public health issues, and important science-based policy actions that can be taken to address them. Through this new publication, CDC supports state-based efforts to strengthen seat belt policies and prevent crash-related injuries and deaths. (www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbeltbrief)

CDC's Injury Center works to protect the safety of everyone on the roads, every day. For more information about seat belts and motor vehicle safety, please visit www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety and www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.


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  • 84 Comments
      Notme
      • 4 Years Ago
      I choose NOT to wear a seatbelt and I believe it is my choice not the STATES to make it for me.
      This being said I can't trust the STATES judgment to much.
      Reason being in this STATE I can tear all over town on my motorcycle without a helmet which is stupid.
      BUT I go home and park my bike and jump into my car surrounded by 4000 lbs of iron with airbags and I am required to put on a seatblet. Logical..very logical... NOT!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Notme
        You make a good point until you made the airbag statement. If you are on top of an airbag when it goes off it can kill you. They are designed to work with seatbelts. The idea of an airbag is for your head to hit the bag just AFTER it has inflated and thus your head pushes the air out. If you are not wearing your seatbelt and you have a head on crash, the airbag inflates in 0.04 seconds while you are travelling forward at lets say 45mph (for ease of calculation). In that 0.04 seconds you travel 2.6ft (or 80cm), which is a lot further than you chest to the steering wheel.

        This is obviously a worst case scenario, but you can see the point, the idea that the airbag will save you is pure stupidity, or just pure ignorance.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My lollypop actually dropped out of my mouth when I read this...
      Just, wow. I can't imagine anyone not putting their seatbelt on for doing any driving over 3mph. (like moving a car out of the drive so another can get out)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Perhaps it is your driving. Ever thought of that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Translation: 1 in 7 adults can't afford a car with a seatbelt warning system that makes you put on your seatbelt or go crazy ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        A common practice in Central and Eastern Europe is to have the warning disabled - by the dealer, unofficially, on your request, but most would oblige. In Western Europe, it's an aftermarket service.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Luckily some of us we Americans can spell now are superb in our we grammar?
        • 4 Years Ago
        That has to be the most moronic thing I have ever heard. I don't like the beeping so i buckle it *behind* me. Are you effing kidding? You are already going through the process of buckling up, just put it in front of you! there is absolutely NO valid argument against wearing a seatbelt. It will not hurt you, it will not ruin your clothes, your penis will still be big with the seatbelt on.

        I feel more secure in my seat with the seatbelt on. I enjoy a good run through the twisties and the seatbelt helps keep me planted in one place on my seat. Safety aside, it just makes backroads all the more enjoyable when you are not sliding around on your seat.
        • 4 Years Ago
        When I had my Mercury it had a light on the dash that would stay on, so I would usually ignore it but since I got the Lincoln it has that nanny that wont stop beeping till I put it on, same with my passengers
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nanny, nanny, nanny, I didn't buckle, it's your fault. Lazy and stupid it is!
        • 4 Years Ago
        LJ, damn right...same with me. No belts, no move. There's a great vid of some guy falling asleep while driving, awakening as the car goes out of control and then being hurled into the back seat because he was unbelted. If not killed he was certainly badly injured. I don't want anyone in my car being a projectile--!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've never seen a Cleveland cop or Cuyahoga county sheriiff wearing a belt, nor any govt. employee of any kind. This increases my taxes because their accident injuries are worse than buckled drivers, so our insurance rates have to be higher. The usual is to see the belt buckled behind the front seat, neatly out of the way.
      • 4 Years Ago
      To me the seatbelt became a must. I enter the car, shut the door and automatically fasten the seatbelt. Sometimes when in a rush I start to drive without the seatbelt and feel uncomfortable. People get mad at me 'cause I ask them to put the seatbelt even when they seat on the backseat.

      Here in Brazil there's a federal law that turned the use of the seatbelt mandatory.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Darwin is working...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ah, someone who knows about the Darwin Awards!
      rjander03
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's always been second nature. You're kind of a twit if you don't. Save your anecdotal "proof" if you have any. I don't care if your friend's sister's mother's cousin survived a wreck because they weren't wearing their seatbelt. There's one time I would have been eaten by a prop if I had been wearing a PFD. Do I still wear one when I'm sailing? You bet your ass.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @rjander03
        Had a job teaching traffic school to make ends meet in college and improve my presentation skills.

        Always had the seatbelt discussion and always heard the "drowning in a lake" or "my cousins car was on fire" excuses submitted as gospel truth for their "logical" choice to not wear the belts. No matter what I said or demonstrated, the dolts would not be swayed from their rationalizations.

        Back then it was more than 15%. Looks like natural selection is working.
      • 4 Years Ago
      85% is impressive.. To those who say it's not enough, you just do not understand the surroundings people other than you live in.. I'd say those who use them sparingly are those who live in rural areas where there is little to no traffic. I use mine 70% of the time.. But I do not wear seatbelts when its a 95 degree hot, humid lazy summer day when I wear no shirt occasionally.. (Sorry I know I'm supposed to wear a full racing suit and helmet with a five point harness.. Don't shoot me! Sheesh people are so uptight these days!) And (gasp!) no shoes!! It is a risk that I take and I am fully aware that I am responsible for my actions..
        • 4 Years Ago
        I concede.. You are correct, sir. Just for good habits sake I really should always get in the habit of buckling every time again.. It's not hard. I honestly belted myself 100% of the time when I was a child up until I got my license which was great, but I began to slack for comfort reasons. Getting used to a couple of belts across the body all the time behind the wheel is much more comfortable than the pain and injury I would experience even if I crashed into a tree going 15 MPH on my long driveway. I thank you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Really? I could hit a cow, a tree or a telephone pole when I take my seatbelt off 30% of the time? Nawww! You can't be serious! I thought the obstacles would see me unbuckled, and jump out of my way! I thought death and injury was impossible with no seatbelt on until you told me!

        But seriously, the system should not be set up where you would be responsible for my stupid actions. I would not want you to be. You shouldn't have to. And also I think you would agree that I should never be responsible for your stupid actions. 100% of us are guilty of making stupid decisions. Those who disagree I guess are really stupid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      But, I can't wear a seatbelt - what if I drop my phone while I'm texting and it falls in the passenger footwell? I can't lean over and get it if the belt is on. Or the bag with my burger and fries slides too far over on the passenger seat?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Then your precious Veyron is going into the water...
      • 4 Years Ago
      read about the peltzman effect

      Is it possible that people who don't wear seat belts drive more safely on the road, and conversely that people who drive with seat belts on, feel safer and are thus more willing to make risky decisions while driving?
        • 4 Years Ago
        What a moronic suggestion.

        "Oh look at me, I'm wearing my belt, so I'll use my car as if it was a bumper car in some amusement park ride. I'll now go play chicken with that 18-wheeler. That brick wall up ahead? Oh, no problems, I'm belted in, it will be fine!"

        :rolleyes:
        • 4 Years Ago
        My boss never wears his seatbelt and he is a TERRIBLE driver. He is very aggressive and not smooth with throttle or brake applications. He had an accident two years ago where he broke three ribs and permanently scarred his face.

        My co-worker is a terrible driver, who is a habitual speeder and doesn't pay attention to his surroundings. He has -19 points on his license, one more ticket and he loses it.

        I've never met a SINGLE person who is an outstanding driver and doesn't wear their seatbelt. You are a fool, sorry.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't even turn the key until I buckle up.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Anyone who didn't answer with "I buckle up every time I get into a car, regardless of where I sit" is an idiot.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/1380376/Unbelted-rear-passengers-biggest-danger-in-crash.html

        "THE risks of dying in the front seat during a car crash increase fivefold if passengers in the back refuse to wear seat-belts, a new study shows............During a car accident at 30mph, a typical rear passenger is flung forward at 30mph with a force of 3.5tons. That is enough to crush the driver or front passenger fatally. The heavier the passenger, the more damage they cause."

        Want to have your chest crushed between your seat and seat belt? That's what happens

        I make anyone who sits in the back buckle up. No excuses, or the car doesn't move.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Back in the early '70s, my father, who was a doctor, started to moonlight in the emergency room. He started an informal poll -- he asked every car accident patient that he treated whether they were wearing their seatbelt and how their headrest was adjusted.

        After six months, he gave up on his poll because it was immediately obvious on first examination whether the patient had been wearing their seatbelt and whether they had their headrest adjusted properly. He didn't need to ask; one look at their face told him everything he needed to know.

        He wouldn't start driving until all us kids were belted in -- he'd seen all the evidence he needed to be completely convinced of the value of seatbelts and properly adjusted headrests.

        Anyone who drives without wearing a seatbelt is an idiot.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, Jared you have a point, but I'm wondering what the people who didn't make it to the ER looked like? I'm sure more than a few people with out seatbelts didn't make it to the point where someone asked them if they were buckled in or not....
        • 4 Years Ago
        Likewise. Anyone who doesn't buckle up is just itching for a Darwin award in my opinion...
        • 4 Years Ago
        As of right now, that's:

        1381 smart people
        361 dumb people

        "dur da dur, seatbelts are useless durr..." *CRASH*
        • 4 Years Ago
        It just feels unnatural for me NOT to buckle up when I get in the car. It's just so instinctual. It's kind of like flushing the toilet after I pee. You just do it without paying attention.

        Plus my car beeps after a certain distance/speed if you don't buckle up it will annoy you until you do :P
        • 4 Years Ago
        Same here, but only because Toyotas/Scions have this unbelivably irritating beep that happens if you turn the key without having your seat belt on (same if you leave the door open and put the key into the ignition).

        Honda has an irritating beep beep beep too... sounds like my alarm clock so I have this horrible, involuntary reaction to it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ victor:

        I'm right there with you, Sir. A friend of mine died in EXACTLY that way. He was in the front-passenger seat, buckled up. The guy behind him, in the back seat, wasn't buckled up. They hit an object, I don't think that car had front seat head-rests, so the guy in the back was flung forward with enough speed and force to crack the back of my friend's skull, when there heads collided. He was killed instantly, and the guy in the back seat walked away. A little irony there, but I had no idea such an accident could play out that way. It's real.

        It's not worth it to NOT buckle up. It's such a simple thing to do, I can't stand people who don't because they're just doing it (or not doing, rather...) out sheer defiance. Idiocy :-/
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