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State Drivers Have Highest Seat Belt Use Rate in Nation

A federal report shows that 97.5 percent of drivers in Washington State strap on their seat belts before hitting the road.

A newly-released federal report shows that Washington State had the highest seat belt use rate in the nation in 2011 at 97.5 percent, marking the seventh consecutive year the state's seat belt use rate has been above 95 percent, according to a joint announcement by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and Washington State Patrol Friday.

Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center estimates that wearing lap-and-shoulder restraints reduces a vehicle passenger’s risk of dying in a crash by 61 percent.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report and table comparing seat belt use rates for all states and territories. The national average in 2011 was 84 percent.

Experts believe that traffic deaths are reduced by good public policy, well-built and maintained roads, and successful education and enforcement efforts.

“Our troopers have placed a very high priority on seat belt violations,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “They see first-hand the results of not wearing seat belts and are extremely motivated to reduce these unnecessary injuries and deaths.”

“I also want to thank the many city, county, and tribal police agencies who’ve joined us in this effort.  It’s only by working together that we can achieve such a positive change of behavior,” Batiste added.

The way states take the observation seat belt survey is changing, so the method will be uniform across the country. This may cause seat belt use rates to change next year.

More information about seat belts can be found in Target Zero, Washington’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Talk to us: Are you buckling up before you start the engine? How are you imparting the importance of wearing a seatbelt on the young drivers in your family?

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