Hindsight being what it is, I now realize that I was a certifiable moron as a teenager. I thought I was far smarter and slicker than I actually was, and I took part in a spectacular array of things that, when viewed through the wiser eyes of someone pushing 30, were the height of stupidity. I'm sure most average Joes and Janes have a similar view of their adolescence. Throughout my teen years, though, I did do one thing correctly – I always wore my seatbelt.

Weirdly, that's a topic that today's teenagers have issue with. And no, this isn't just some rant about youth; there's empirical evidence to back up this troubling trend. A new report by the Governors' Highway Safety Association has revealed that of the teen drivers killed on the roads in 2012, over half (51.2 percent, to be precise) weren't wearing their seatbelts. We aren't sure what's worse, that that figure has jumped 6 percent in the past three years, or that teen passengers are 20 percent less likely to wear seatbelts than teen drivers.

"Crashes are already the leading cause of death for teens, and it is particularly disturbing to see the percentage of unbelted teen drivers and passengers in fatalities continue to rise," said the GHSA's executive director, Jonathan Adkins.

Considering this information, the GHSA's report doesn't just inform, it aims to help local municipalities counteract this trend. The report details some of the most successful programs in the country when it comes to encouraging teen seatbelt use and outlines common elements that make them successful so that new programs can be setup around the country.

"Developing innovative, engaging approaches to teen safe driving reduces injuries and ultimately helps save lives," said Steve Sorenson, executive vice president at Allstate, which co-authored the GHSA report. "We hope that highlighting effective programs already underway in states and cities across the country will help expand their reach and encourage everyone in the car to buckle up on every trip."

Scroll down for the full press release from the GHSA and Allstate, and click here to view the full report (warning: PDF).
Show full PR text
Report Highlights Programs With Potential to Increase Teen Seat Belt Use
Governors Highway Safety Association and The Allstate Foundation partner to identify initiatives key to reversing unbelted teen fatalities

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Buckling up has always been a simple action that dramatically increases a person's chances of surviving a crash, but more than half of teen drivers killed in 2012 failed to use a seat belt. What's more shocking is that this number has increased by six percent over the last three years. And worse, teen passengers killed in fatal crashes use their seat belts even less than fatally injured teen drivers – almost 20 percent less. A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and The Allstate Foundation is giving states and localities tools to combat these trends by highlighting programs across the country that can serve as models to increase teen seat belt use rates.

The report, Getting It to Click: Connecting Teens and Seat Belts, examines the elements of effective teen seat belt programs, showcases promising programs currently implemented in 12 states, and recommendations to accelerate the success of programs motivating teens to buckle up.

"Crashes are already the leading cause of death for teens, and it is particularly disturbing to see the percentage of unbelted teen drivers and passengers in fatalities continue to rise," said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins, who oversaw the development of this latest report. "It is imperative that we find out what works to make teens understand that using a seat belt may save their life and find ways to convince them to buckle up every time they get in the car."

"Developing innovative, engaging approaches to teen safe driving reduces injuries and ultimately helps save lives," said Steve Sorenson, executive vice president at Allstate. "We hope that highlighting effective programs already underway in states and cities across the country will help expand their reach and encourage everyone in the car to buckle up on every trip."

Programs and initiatives covered in the report were identified through a survey of State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) conducted by GHSA in January 2014. After reviewing survey responses, an expert panel identified a number of states with strong teen seat belt-related programs that had the potential for replication by other states. These states are: Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

Expert panel members identified seven elements that effective teen seat belt programs had in common. These include:

Laws and their enforcement;
Peer-to-peer efforts;
Parental participation;
Community involvement;
Incorporation of social media;
Provision of incentives; and
Resources that would be useful to diverse audiences.

Programs detailed in the report all had one or more of these seven elements at their core, and the most successful used a multifaceted approach. Nearly every state has implemented campaigns that address teen road safety, and many have specific efforts that target seat belt use in particular. However, no single approach has solved the challenge of improving teen compliance with seat belt laws. Instead, research shows that combining approaches improves the likelihood of affecting teen behavior.

The state program survey and summary report were created and written by Karen Sprattler, Principal, Sprattler Group. An expert panel contributed to the report. Panel members included Kathy Bernstein Harris, National Safety Council; Anita Boles, NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety); Hilda Crespo, Aspira; Chuck DeWeese, New York Governor's Traffic Safety Committee; Sandy Sinclair, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); Allan Williams, researcher; GHSA's Adkins; and Laura Glaza, The Allstate Foundation.

A PDF version of the new report is available online at www.ghsa.org.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 69 Comments
      Technoir
      • 5 Months Ago
      It is in human nature for some of us to disobey rules, question things, and throw common sense out the window. We humans are what we are because billions of people before us tried different things and acted in different ways, good and bad. Evolution wants to weed out the dumbest of us, and it translates into people not wearing seat belts (among other things) despite countless warnings.
      jtav2002
      • 5 Months Ago
      What I enjoy more than anything are the people that don't wear it due to a fear of things like crashing into a body of water and not being able to get out. Such low odds of your seatbelt actually killing you versus saving your life yet people focus on the negative.
      methos1999
      • 5 Months Ago
      Ok, the thing this article doesn't seem to discuss - WHY don't teens want to buckle up? I understand some cars the belts just keep getting tighter like a boa constrictor, but many cars are quite comfortable with the seat-belts. What logic do the teens have that they don't want to buckle up?
      Andrew Berardinelli
      • 5 Months Ago
      It starts with the parents.
      dukeisduke
      • 5 Months Ago
      I started wearing a lap belt when I was 11, and a lap belt saved my life in 1979, when I t-boned a '72 Impala with a Fiat 124 sedan. I was nineteen at the time, and walked away with a bloody nose (my nose hit the steering wheel), and a couple days with a sore neck and back. The Fiat was a write-off, as was the Chevy. That made a believer out of me.
      jonnybimmer
      • 5 Months Ago
      It's sort of unfathomable that anyone drives/rides around without a seatbelt on. The few times I have was due to the vehicle lacking one and as a twenty-something who's instinctively put on the seatbelt my entire life, driving at highway speeds was a pretty unnerving experience. It'd be interesting to see what actual reason is, whether it be an increase in neglectful parents or just teen angst (stupidity). On a different note, please don't use a [crappy] title like that again AB. Just don't.
      drew
      • 5 Months Ago
      Seriously, cut it out.
      m3laszlo
      • 5 Months Ago
      Who said they were mostly bald male teens? That's gotta be a cliché. The picture should be a lipstick applying girl texting away OMG Becky , like you tötally wönt buhlieve whut just happend to me at the mall!
      KaiserWilhelm
      • 5 Months Ago
      Nice clickbait headline you jackholes
      Basil Exposition
      • 5 Months Ago
      and Autoblog goes One Wierd Trick
      dukeisduke
      • 5 Months Ago
      The headline reads like one of those Web ads ("This simple trick drives insurance companies crazy!").
      bc3091
      • 5 Months Ago
      I don't put my car in gear unless everyone is wearing a seat belt. Easier that way.
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