Milwaukee Personal Injury Lawyers - Cannon & Dunphy S.C. Milwaukee Personal Injury Lawyers - Cannon & Dunphy S.C.
Helping clients for over 100 years Helping clients for over 100 years Se Habla Espanol
(855) 627-2147
Menu
Our Blog

[Study] Seat Belt Usage in the United States

March 1, 2020 |

One of the safest and easiest choices American drivers can make when getting inside their cars is to wear their seat belts.  A simple act of buckling up could be life-saving and could prevent you from being severely injured in a car accident. Based on NHTSA data, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017.

seat belt use in the united states

Seat belts are safety features designed to help save lives when people are on the road. However, despite advanced restraint systems and stricter laws on seat belt usage, people still fail to wear them and put themselves at risk. Our personal injury lawyers at Cannon & Dunphy S.C. are advocates of road safety aiming to promote the importance of seat belt use in the United States. We wanted to find out the seat belt use rates in the U.S. to see which states are increasing their usage, and which states are not. So, we worked with the data visualization and consumer safety advocacy firm, Safer America, to analyze NHTSA seat belt use rates from 2017.

The interactive map shows that most of the states’ seat belt use rate varied in the 80-90 percentile. It was discovered that the 2017 national average rate on seat belt use was 89.7%.

The five states with the highest seat belt use in 2017 are:

  1. Georgia – 97.10%
  2. Hawaii  – 96.90%
  3. Oregon – 96.80%
  4. California – 96.20%
  5. Washington – 94.80%

These 5 states ranked above the national average.

The five states with the lowest seat belt use in 2017 are:

  1.  New Hampshire – 67.60%
  2. Massachusetts – 73.70%
  3. South Dakota – 74.80%
  4. Montana – 78.00%
  5. Mississippi – 78.80%

These five states ranked below the national average.

 2010-2017 National Seat Belt Rates

State or U.S. Territory 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2016-2017 Change
Alabama 91.40% 88.00% 89.50% 97.30% 95.70% 93.30% 92.00% 92.90% 0.90%
Alaska 86.80% 89.30% 88.10% 86.10% 88.40% 89.30% 88.50% 90.10% 1.60%
Arizona 81.80% 82.90% 82.20% 84.70% 87.20% 86.60% 88.00% 86.10% -1.90%
Arkansas 78.30% 78.40% 71.90% 76.70% 74.40% 77.70% 75.10% 81.00% 5.90%
California 96.20% 96.60% 95.50% 97.40% 97.10% 97.30% 96.50% 96.20% -0.30%
Colorado 82.90% 82.10% 80.70% 82.10% 82.40% 85.20% 84.00% 83.80% -0.20%
Connecticut 88.20% 88.40% 86.80% 86.60% 85.10% 85.40% 89.40% 90.30% 0.90%
Delaware 90.70% 90.30% 87.90% 92.20% 91.90% 90.40% 91.40% 91.40% 0.00%
District of Columbia 92.30% 95.20% 92.40% 87.50% 93.20% 95.50% 94.10% 93.60% -0.50%
Florida 87.40% 88.10% 87.40% 87.20% 88.80% 89.40% 89.60% 90.20% 0.60%
Georgia 89.60% 93.00% 92.00% 95.50% 97.30% 97.30% 97.20% 97.10% -0.10%
Hawaii 97.60% 96.00% 93.40% 94.00% 93.50% 92.80% 94.50% 96.90% 2.40%
Idaho 77.90% 79.10% 79.00% 81.60% 80.20% 81.10% 82.90% 81.20% -1.70%
Illinois 92.60% 92.90% 93.60% 93.70% 94.10% 95.20% 93.00% 93.80% 0.80%
Indiana 92.40% 93.20% 93.60% 91.60% 90.20% 91.90% 92.40% 93.00% 0.60%
Iowa 93.10% 93.50% 92.40% 91.90% 92.80% 93.00% 93.80% 91.40% -2.40%
Kansas 81.80% 82.90% 79.50% 80.70% 85.70% 82.10% 87.00% 82.00% -5.00%
Kentucky 80.30% 82.20% 83.70% 85.00% 86.10% 86.70% 86.50% 86.80% 0.30%
Louisiana 75.90% 77.70% 79.30% 82.50% 84.10% 85.90% 87.80% 87.10% -0.70%
Maine 82.00% 81.60% 84.40% 83.00% 85.00% 85.50% 85.80% 88.90% 3.10%
Maryland 94.70% 94.20% 91.10% 90.70% 92.10% 92.90% 90.80% 92.10% 1.30%
Massachusetts 73.70% 73.20% 72.70% 74.80% 76.60% 74.10% 78.20% 73.70% -4.50%
Michigan 95.20% 94.50% 93.60% 93.00% 93.30% 92.80% 94.50% 94.10% -0.40%
Minnesota 92.30% 92.70% 93.60% 94.80% 94.70% 94.00% 93.20% 92.00% -1.20%
Mississippi 81.00% 81.90% 83.20% 74.40% 78.30% 79.60% 77.90% 78.80% 0.90%
Missouri 76.00% 79.00% 79.40% 80.10% 78.80% 79.90% 81.40% 84.00% 2.60%
Montana 78.90% 76.90% 76.30% 74.00% 74.00% 77.00% 76.00% 78.00% 2.00%
Nebraska 84.10% 84.20% 78.60% 79.10% 79.00% 79.60% 83.30% 85.90% 2.60%
Nevada 93.20% 94.10% 90.50% 94.80% 94.00% 92.10% 89.40% 90.60% 1.20%
New Hampshire 72.20% 75.00% 68.60% 73.00% 70.40% 69.50% 70.20% 67.60% -2.60%
New Jersey 93.70% 94.50% 88.30% 91.00% 87.60% 91.40% 93.40% 94.10% 0.70%
New Mexico 89.80% 90.50% 91.40% 92.00% 92.10% 93.30% 92.30% 91.50% -0.80%
New York 89.80% 90.50% 90.40% 91.10% 90.60% 92.20% 91.80% 93.40% 1.60%
North Carolina 89.70% 89.50% 87.50% 88.60% 90.60% 89.90% 91.70% 91.40% -0.30%
North Dakota 74.80% 76.70% 80.90% 77.70% 81.00% 80.40% 82.80% 79.30% -3.50%
Ohio 83.80% 84.10% 82.00% 84.50% 85.00% 83.90% 83.80% 82.80% -1.00%
Oklahoma 85.90% 85.90% 83.80% 83.60% 86.30% 84.50% 86.60% 86.90% 0.30%
Oregon 97.00% 96.60% 96.80% 98.20% 97.80% 95.50% 96.20% 96.80% 0.60%
Pennsylvania 86.00% 83.80% 83.50% 84.00% 83.60% 82.70% 85.20% 85.60% 0.40%
Rhode Island 78.00% 80.40% 77.50% 85.60% 87.40% 86.70% 87.50% 88.30% 0.80%
South Carolina 85.40% 86.00% 90.50% 91.70% 90.00% 91.60% 93.90% 92.30% -1.60%
South Dakota 74.50% 73.40% 66.50% 68.70% 68.90% 73.60% 74.20% 74.80% 0.60%
Tennessee 87.10% 87.40% 83.70% 84.80% 87.70% 86.20% 88.90% 88.50% -0.40%
Texas 93.80% 93.70% 94.00% 90.30% 90.70% 90.50% 91.60% 91.90% 0.30%
Utah 89.00% 89.20% 81.90% 82.40% 83.40% 87.20% 87.90% 88.80% 0.90%
Vermont 85.20% 84.70% 84.20% 84.90% 84.10% 85.00% 80.00% 84.50% 4.50%
Virginia 80.50% 81.80% 78.40% 79.70% 77.30% 80.90% 79.00% 85.30% 6.30%
Washington 97.60% 97.50% 96.90% 94.50% 94.50% 94.60% 94.70% 94.80% 0.10%
West Virginia 82.10% 84.90% 84.00% 82.20% 87.80% 89.00% 86.80% 89.70% 2.90%
Wisconsin 79.20% 79.00% 79.90% 82.40% 84.70% 85.80% 88.40% 89.40% 1.00%
Wyoming 78.90% 82.60% 77.00% 81.90% 79.20% 79.80% 80.50% 84.80% 4.30%

As seen from the 2010 to 2017 data table, some state rates remained consistent, while others saw signifiant inclines and declines throughout the seven years. The last column of the table shows the rate in change per state specifically from 2016 to 2017.

2016 to 2017 Changes

What is interesting about some of the states that ranked the highest in the national seat belt use was that some saw a decrease in their total rate from 2016 to 2017. For example, California is ranked the 4th highest state with their usage of seat belts, but had a slight decline of -0.30% from 2016 to 2017. Another interesting state is Montana. In 2017, Montana ranked second to last in the United States with lowest seat belt rates, but in fact saw a 2% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Meanwhile, Delaware had a 0% increase from 2016-2017, remaining at 91.40% in that time frame. The states that saw bigger increases between the year were Arkansas (5.90%), Vermont (4.50%), Virginia (6.30%), and Wyoming (4.30%). While Kansas (-5%), North Dakota (-3.50%), and Massachusetts (-4.50%) had the highest decline in their seat belt rate.

Overall, 23 states achieved a seat belt use rate of 90% or higher. States with stronger seat belt enforcement laws tend to generally have higher rates of seat belt usage than the states with less strict laws. New Hampshire is the current only state that has no enforceable seat belt laws in a vehicle, which is why it’s no surprise it ranks the lowest in the 2017 national U.S. seat belt rates.

Buckle up Properly

It’s important that you are always wearing your seat belt correctly. Here are a few seat belt guidelines to follow:

  • Make sure the lap or should belt are secured across the pelvis and rib cage
  • The lap belt should be across your hips, not your stomach
  • Always put the shoulder belt in front, not behind your back, shoulder, or under the arm

Safety Benefits of Seat Belt Use

Whether or not you are required by law to wear a seat belt, it is always wise to do so. A few benefits from wearing a seat belt are:

  • Provides safety to all passengers in the vehicle
  • Designed to work with airbags in the event of an impact
  • May prevent a ticket for not wearing one
  • Reduces the risks of severe injuries and death

As personal injury lawyers and advocates of road safety, we strongly encourage you all to always prioritize your safety on the road. So, minimize the risk of being injured, and buckle up.

contact
us today
request your free consultation get started today * Required Field
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.