Report compares safety belt use among states

Washington – South Dakota has the lowest rate of safety belt usage, at 66.5 percent, while 96.9 percent of drivers in Washington state buckle up, according to a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report on safety belt use in 2012.

NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis calculated the rates using observational surveys and probability calculations. Among the findings:

  • Sixteen states and the District of Columbia had safety belt use rates of 90 percent or higher: Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Hawaii, Iowa, Georgia, New Mexico, Maryland, Nevada, South Carolina and New York.
  • States with the largest changes in safety belt use rates from 2011 to 2012 were Utah, with a 7.3 percent decrease, and South Carolina, with an increase of 4.5 percent.
  • States with “stronger” safety belt enforcement laws tended to have higher safety belt use rates.

According to the report, the nationwide safety belt use rate was 86 percent in 2012, up 2 percent from 2011. However, the report stated that the nationwide rate was determined using NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey, which uses different methodology from the surveys used to calculate state rates.