The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a facts sheet that summarizes state-by-state trends in seat belt usage. The national average is up in 2012, to nearly 86%, but some important changes to the criteria used were also made recently.

In 2012, seat belt use in the United States ranged from 66.5 percent in South Dakota to 96.9 percent in Washington. These results are from probability-based observational surveys conducted by 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. These surveys are conducted in accordance with criteria established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure reliable results. Compliance with the criteria is verified annually by NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis…

…Sixteen States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico achieved seat belt use rates of 90 percent or higher.

These States are Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Hawaii, Iowa, Georgia, New Mexico, Maryland, Nevada, South Carolina and New York, in descending order.

The results indicate jurisdictions with stronger seat belt enforcement laws have higher seat belt use that those with weaker enforcement laws, which makes sense. It also makes sense that a strong company-wide seat belt use policy is an effective way to improve your own drivers personal safety and compliance with the law. Your policy should require 100% seat belt usage, and then you should test drivers to be sure that they understand the policy.

Beyond policy, effective fleet driver training (with ongoing, yearly refresher training) is required to be sure your drivers understand the importance of using seat belts, including the basic mechanics of what a moderate collision has on the human body, how air bags and other safety systems designed into their vehicles assume that the occupants are positioned correctly during impact, and how those systems work together to help reduce injury and save lives.

Download “Seat Belt Use in 2012 – Use Rates in the States and Territories

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