Wearing your seat belt every time you enter a vehicle is one of the easiest choices you can make. Regardless if you are entering an automobile as a passenger or driver, deciding to buckle up is the smartest choice as it lowers the risk of injuries.
According to the CDC, seat belt use reduces the risk of death by 45%, and 50% of serious injury for drivers and front-seat passengers. Seat belt usage prevents passengers from being ejected during a crash, so those who do not wear one in an automobile are 30 times more likely to eject.
Cannon & Dunphy S.C.’s personal injury lawyers are advocates aiming to promote road safety. We’ve teamed with the data visualization and consumer safety advocacy firm, Safer America, to analyze our previous two studies: 2018 Fatal Crash Rates & Seat Belt Usage in the U.S. to determine whether or not state seat belt laws affect the rates in car accident fatalities.
As you can see, most of the states in the United States follow a primary enforcement law for adults. There a total of 35 states (including Washington D.C.) that follow the primary enforcement law for front-seat occupants, Utah being the latest state to follow it. Contrary, there are a total of 15 states that follow the secondary enforcement law for front-seat occupants.
The primary state laws are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
These states are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.
New Hampshire is the only current state without a seat belt use law.
*2018 fatal crash rates expressed per 100,000 people in each state.
|State or U.S. Territory||2017 Seatbelt Use Rate||2018 Fatal Crash Rate||Seatbelt State Laws (Adults)||In What Seat Do These Laws Apply? (Adults)|
|Alabama||92.90%||17.92||Primary (as of 9/1/19)||All|
|District of Columbia||93.60%||4.27||Primary||All|
|New Hampshire||67.60%||9.88||No Law||N/A|
The data table above looks at each state’s seat belt use rate from 2017, its 2018’s fatal crash rate, their seat belt laws, and where the law applies in the vehicle (front seats or backseats).
So, does seatbelt use directly affect fatal crashes? The answer seems to be a resounding yes.
Overall, the primary enforcement state laws average 83% seat belt usage while the secondary states average 75%, according to NHTSA.
The action of wearing your seat belt every time you enter a car is effortless. That is why it is wise to do so, regardless if it is not legally required. Here are a few safety benefits of wearing a seat belt:
Our Milwaukee, WI personal injury attorneys strongly encourage you all to always prioritize your safety on the road. Minimize the risk of being injured, and buckle up.