NHTSA Encourages Drivers to Buckle Up With New Safety Campaign

Even though American motorists buckle up more than ever before, 2013 saw the first increase in fatalities in five years for unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants.
Paul Walker's Crashed Porsche Carrera GT 1 photo
Despite state level educational campaigns, seat belt usage in the United States before 1980 lingered around 11 percent. Beginning with New York's 1984 mandatory seat belt use law, the national usage rate climbed over 50 percent.

Nonetheless, it's very worrying and unnatural that fatal injures of vehicle occupants that refuse to buckle up have hiked although cars are getting safer than ever before and drivers are highly educated in terms of road safety.

As an effort to change those numbers for the better, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration kickstarted its latest edition of the 'Click It or Ticket' passenger safety educational campaign. Taking into account that in the last five years alone police officers gave over 3 million seat belt citations to North American motorists, it's easy to see the utility of this multi-million dollar effort to decrease those numbers.

According to the NHTSA, 3,031 vehicle occupants over the age of 5 would've been saved in 2012 only if they had worn the simple but highly effective contraption called a seat belt. Also, you should know that catching some air lands a high change of dying if you're physically restrained to the car. Of all passenger vehicle occupants ejected from their vehicles in crashes, 79 percent suffered fatal injuries.

An interesting fact is that darkness has an influence on the severity of the crash in the case of people that aren't wearing seat belts. Figures suggest that 61 percent of unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants lost their lives in crashes that happened between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The NHTSA also found out that seat belts saved an estimated 12,174 people from dying in 2012. From 2008 – 2012, seat belts saved nearly 63,000 lives in North America.

Also, you should know that being in a pickup truck or a big SUV doesn't make you safer than everyone else in a crash if you're not wearing the lifesaving belt. And don't go thinking that you don't need to buckle up if you have more than average driving skills. Among passenger vehicle occupants, of all men aged 18 to 34 who were killed in fatal crashes, 65% were not buckled.

Whatever reason someone may come up with for not wearing a seat belt while driving, speak up and tell him or her that's a very wrong notion. It turns out 9 out of 10 people fasten their seat belt when asked to do so. If Europe can halve its road deaths in a mere 10 years, why can't American drivers do the same?

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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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