U.S. Department of Transportation Says Seat Belt Use Down While Motorcycle Helmet Use Rises

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters says that Americans need to take greater precautions on the road to increase safety and save more lives.

According to the latest information from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), Secretary Peters said that seat belt use in the U.S. is down slightly from 2005, now standing at 81% instead of 82% That’s because while on the West Coast, belt use climbed from 85% to 90% and rose from 82 to 83% in the South, in the Northeast, belt use dropped to from 78% to 74% and from 79% to 77% in the Midwest.

A seat belt can’t work if it isn’t on,” said Secretary Peters. “Whatever it takes, we all need to do a better job making sure everyone chooses to buckle up.”

Peters also mentioned that the DOT is continuing to work with the different states to promote seat belt use. In 2006 alone, the DOT provided over $123 million in incentive grants to states that had primary seat belt laws. It also worked with each state on the nationwide Click It or Ticket campaign that had police agencies across the country enforce the seat belt laws in their state.

According to the DOT:

· Research has shown that lap/shoulder belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. For light truck occupants, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent.

· Safety belts should always be worn, even when riding in vehicles equipped with air bags. Air bags are designed to work with safety belts, not alone. Air bags, when not used with safety belts, have a fatality-reducing effectiveness rate of only 12 percent.

· Safety belt usage saves society an estimated $50 billion annually in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury-related costs.

· Conversely, safety belt nonuse results in significant economic costs to society. The needless deaths and injuries from safety belt nonuse account for an estimated $26 billion in economic costs to society annually.16 The cost goes beyond the lost lives of unbuckled drivers and passengers: We all pay – in higher taxes and higher health care and insurance costs.

Peters said that use of helmets by motorcyclists in the U.S. is up 51% from 48%. In particular, in the West, helmet use increased from 50% to 72% and 42% to 47% in the Northeast. The rate of use, however, decreased from 53% to 50% in the Midwest and 49% to 45% in the South. The survey only took into account the helmets that complied with DOT safety standards.

Saferoads.org offers the following motorcycle helmet statistics:

– In 2004, 66% of fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet in states without all-rider helmet laws, compared with only 15% in states with all-rider helmet laws. (NHTSA, 2005)

– Per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are about 21 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash and four times as likely to be injured. (NHTSA, 2001)

– In 2003, 36 percent of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding, approximately twice the rate for drivers of passenger cars or light trucks. The percentage of alcohol involvement was 40 percent higher for motorcyclists than for drivers of passenger vehicles. (NHTSA, 2003)

Motorcyclist fatalities are rising fastest among motorcycle riders over age 40. In 2003 alone, fatalities increased by 16%. (NHTSA, 2003)

– Helmets reduce the risk of death by 29% and are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries to motorcycle riders. (NHTSA, 2001)

The personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen represents clients who have suffered personal injuries or property damage in automobile, motorcycle, or truck accidents in Maryland and the Washington D.C. area. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car or motorcycle accident, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen today to set up an appointment for your free, no obligation consultation.

U.S. DOT Announces 2006 Seat Belt and Motorcycle Helmet Use Statistics, NHTSA.gov
Motorcycle Helmets, Saferoads.org
Safety Belt Use, NHTSA

Related Web Resources:

Seat Belt Use in 2006

Motorcycle Helmet Use In 2006

U.S. Department of Transportation

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