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Safety restraints and seat belt usage

What has become clearly evident to anyone who reads the automobile accident statistics often discussed on this blog, the use of safety belts and other restraints has a clear impact on the nature and extent of injuries or deaths caused by an automobile or truck accident.

Every year the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NAPOS).  It is the only national probability-based survey that studies seat belt use, motorcycle helmet use, child restraint use and driver electronic device use.   The NHTSA has released the data collected from the 2009 Controlled Intersection Survey (CIS) which is the portion of the NAPOS which collects data as observed at intersections controlled by stop signs or stop lights.

Following are some of the significant findings regarding occupant safety restraint use gathered from stopped cars at intersections.

Seat belt usage continues to be lower among 16-24 year olds and lower among males than females.

Seat belt usage is lower among black occupants than other race groups – but that usage is improving.

Seat belt usage is lower among solo drivers as opposed to those with passengers.

Seat belt usage continues to be lower among back seat passengers as opposed to front seat passengers.

Those states with rear seat belt laws saw higher usage.

Safety restraint usage for children 0-7 is still only in the 87-88% range.

Over 94% of children under eight rode in the rear seats, with infants and 1-3 year olds at 99%.

Child restraint use in the Midwest increased significantly from 85% in 2008 to 90% in 2001. The West continued to have a higher percentage of child restraint use as compared to other regions.

Finally, safety restraint use by children in cars with belted drivers continued to be higher than in cars with unbelted drivers. Even in cars with unbelted drivers, the use of child safety restraints was up from 54% to 66.

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