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Seat Belt Use And Injury Prevention, Nationally And In Illinois

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has published a variety of statistics with regard to automobile accidents and seat belt use.

One publication that discusses these statistics is a CDC “Vital Signs” bulletin titled “Adult Seat Belt Use in the U.S.” As the bulletin reads:

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 5 – 34. Adult seat belt use is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. The percentage of adults who always wear seat belts increased from 80% to 85% between 2002 and 2008. Even so, 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip. Primary enforcement seat belt laws make a big difference in getting more people to buckle up.* In 2010, 19 states–where 1 in 4 adult Americans live–did not have a primary law.

Also from the bulletin:

  • “Using a seat belt on every trip is the most effective way to prevent injury and death.”
  • Seat belt use reduces serious injuries and deaths in crashes by 50%. Air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts in a crash.

On page 3 of the bulletin, seat belt use is reported by sex, age and type of law.

On page 4, Illinois is shown to have a Primary Seat belt law, and the map indicates Illinois has 80-89% seat belt use in 2009.

Page 5 indicates “what can be done” ; i.e. suggestions as to promoting greater seat belt use. Among the suggestions are the following:

  • Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short the trip may be.
  • Encourage all passengers in the car to buckle up, including those in the back seat.

In another CDC report, titled “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” dated January 7, 2011, it states that seat belt use (self-reported) has continued to rise in the U.S., reaching 85% in 2008. This compares to a figure of only 11% in 1982.

This report reiterates the statistic that seat belt use reduces the probability of serious injury during a crash by approximately 50%. It cites a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finding that the long-trend declining nonfatal traffic injuries was caused by a variety factors, including seat belt use, declines in alcohol-impaired driving, and improvements in vehicle safety (such as air bags & electronic stability control.)

The report concludes:

To reduce the number of crash-related injuries, all motor vehicle occupants should wear seat belts (or age-appropriate and size-appropriate restraints for children) on every trip. Although primary enforcement laws are a proven strategy for increasing seat belt use and reducing the number of injuries, as of January 2011, 19 states still do not have such laws in effect. States should consider enacting primary enforcement seat belt laws that are vigorously enforced and that cover all motor vehicle occupants of appropriate age and size, regardless of seating position in the vehicle.

The report also states the following, comparing seat belt use in the U.S. vs. that of European countries:

Many high-income countries in Europe have achieved high levels of seat belt use with primary enforcement laws that cover all vehicle occupants. Front-seat estimates of seat belt use are >90% in France (98%), Sweden (96%), Germany (95%), Netherlands (94%), Norway (93%), and United Kingdom (91%)] (13). Notably, the traffic fatality rate per 100,000 population in the United States is nearly double that of 21 selected European high-income countries (13).